Dear PoPville – No Need to Slam on Your Brakes at First Glimpse of a Speed Camera


“Dear PoPville,

Could you remind folks that the key is in the name: Speed cameras. Which means that they will not snap a photo if someone is driving the speed limit, therefore it is not necessary to slam on one’s brakes at the first glimpse of a “Photo enforced” sign and slow down to 5-10 miles below the speed limit. I’m surprised there aren’t more accidents near cameras because of people who feel the need to drop to a crawl. I’m not sure what the trigger speed is for cameras in the District–I’ve heard 5 mph over but that seems like a low threshhold. In MD I believe the trigger is closer to 11 mph over the limit. In either case, if you’re driving the speed limit then there is no reason to hit your brakes for the cameras.”

30 Comment

  • I hear you. I’ve almost rear ended so many people because of this.

    • If you almost rear-ended them, you were following too closely.
      I think the reasons why people slam on their brakes when they see a speed camera are 1) they knew they were speeding and wanted to slow down so as not to get photographed/busted, or 2) they weren’t sure what the actual speed limit was on that particular stretch of road and figured “Better safe than sorry.”
      The key phrase in the OP’s post is the “if you’re driving the speed limit”: “In either case, if you’re driving the speed limit then there is no reason to hit your brakes for the cameras.” In many cases in D.C., that’s a big IF.

      • I agree that someone hitting the breaks should not cause you to rear end them.

        On the other hand, I think people have a responsibility to be competent and aware drivers. Know the speed limit, know your speed, and know how speed cameras work. A person shouldn’t start thinking about these things the moment they see a speed camera.

    • we need more cameras not less, probably 2,500 more red light and speed cameras, they need to be calibrated to only 3 miles per hour over, and they need to be a hundred percent hidden, no lines on the road and no signs and no silver boxes, fit them in street lights on in the actual stop light bulbs.

  • It’s 11 MPH in DC as well.

    Well, technically it’s 1 MPH and they could ticket you, but MPD only issues tickets for 11 MPH and more.

    • I believe there’s only a 5mph buffer in 25mph zones.

      • It’s a blanket 11 MPH. I’m too lazy to look up the source but if you see a breakdown of the fines, they always start at 11 MPH over.

        • i got a ticket in the mail for going 7mph over the limit. extra annoying because i only drive once or twice a month!

        • Yup got nailed for going 32 on K St under Washington Circle (25 zone). That camera must be a serious cash cow for the city.

          • I believe that actually is the highest “earning” camera in DC.

          • This camera drives me insane. People travelling westbound think the camera will catch them and go insanely slow, when in fact the camera can only catch speeders travelling eastbound. So you don’t need to go 15 mph, people.

  • This is one of my biggest pet peeves driving on highways as well. When you see a cop there is no need to slam on your breaks and go 5-10 miles below the speed limit!

  • I guess I always second-guess myself and worry that I missed a posted reduction in speed limit. After all, that tends to be where speed cameras and traffic cops are set up. I wouldn’t do it if a car was close behind, though, and usually it’s more like a gradual decrease in speed.

  • The 395 tunnel is the worst for this. The speed limit is 45!!! There is no reason to slow to 25 by those cameras. I’m amazed there aren’t more accidents there.

  • whatever gets you acquitted…no one is trying to get a ticket. get up on your knowledge of where speed cameras are located and slow down too…. i’m not getting a ticket just so you don’t rear end me because you were all up on me too close… simply PAY ATTENTION

  • some people stop at them.

  • Adding to this: the speed limit on the stretch of N. Cap from Blair to Michigan is 40! FORTYYYY. You guys are killing me.

    • Also, New Hampshire at Sligo Creek Parkway in Takoma Park has a speed limit of 35, but people regularly slow down to 20 or EVEN SLOWER. That moment of my commute makes me hate everyone on earth.

  • Just to be safe, I like to get out of my car, put in in neutral, and walk it through the photo zone.

    • ^^This is effing hilarious!

      I read somewhere that DC took in $177M in moving violations and parking tickets last year – not sure if it was a full year or not.

  • Some people slam on their brakes and are then going dangerously below the speed limit by 15 mph. I know that this usually happens and am prepared for it, but it’s still unbelievably annoying. Thanks for posting something about this irritating behavior.

  • Pretty sure that picture is of a stop sign camera, not speed camera.

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