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Nine stop light cameras reap $84.9 Million in fines in Washington, D.C.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 29th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Washington, D.C. nine speed, or stop light cameras brought in a whopping $84.9 million in fines annually. One such camera brought in $8.1 million in revenues alone. In spite of this, many drivers in our nation's capital feel they can still beat the light.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Monitoring speed and traffic violations, such as failing to stop at a red light, the cameras have issued more than 243,000 tickets since 2011.

In spite of the orange warning signs at each end of the Washington Circle tunnel, roughly 205 drivers daily slip over the 25 miles per hour speed limit and land themselves with a $50 to $100 fine.

Many detractors say the cameras are a profitable side line for the District's budget, noting drivers face a fine, but no points on their license. "I'd like to think I financed a few parades in the city, but you know, if you speed, that's just one of the things that comes along with it," D.C. resident Michael Burke says.

The cameras are credited with reducing road accidents. About a third of all traffic deaths nationwide were attributed to speeding.

Opponents still argue that the location of the cameras, on commuter routes rather than outside schools or residential streets, proves the main motivation for their use is money - and not safety.

As evidence they point to the highly profitable K Street camera, which cost $8 million to install, it is located just as the speed limit drops to 25 miles per hour. The second-most profitable camera brought in just half of the K Street camera's revenue, with $4.6 million in fines.

"When you consider that many speed cameras are in locations where the speed limit [is] 25 or 30 miles per hour, it's not hard to believe some people may go over the limit because drivers go at what engineers call the 85 percentile speed. So it's not hard to generate tickets when the limits are set artificially low," John Townsend II, of AAA Mid-Atlantic says.

Money, the revenue generated by the cameras is a key factor in the speed debate. A knock-on effect on the hike in gas prices was a drop in speed. The problem, safety officials say, is getting drivers who are willing to cut their speed to save money to do the same to save lives.

There were an estimated 32,310 deaths in road accidents in the U.S in 2011. Previous research backs up that accidents at lower speeds improve survival rates.
 
'Maybe once the public feels they will get a ticket if they speed, we will see a change. Drivers may slow down to save a buck but not slow down to potentially save a life,' Adkins said.

Speed cameras remain highly unpopular. Twelve U.S. states have banned them altogether and seven states allow only restricted use of the cameras, 29 have no laws about them at all - and only two states and D.C. allow them.

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