Photo by Chris Rief
D.C.’s speed and red light cameras are great for safety, and great for the bottom line. WTOP reports that in fiscal year 2011, the city’s multitude of automated traffic enforcement cameras brought $55 million into city coffers:
Using a Freedom of Information Act request, AAA Mid-Atlantic found that the District took in a record $55.1 million from speed and red-light cameras during its 2011 fiscal year, despite issuing fewer citations than the year before.
In 2011, the city mailed 462,601 tickets. Of those, 397,464 were paid and 65,137 remain unpaid. In 2010, D.C. mailed 618,165 tickets. Of those, 547,131 were paid and 71,034 were not.
As part of an expanded use of the cameras, D.C. is expecting to take in an additional $30 million in 2013.
With cameras becoming more common place throughout D.C., there are continued concerns as to the integrity of the program. A recent WTOP poll found that a majority of drivers think they serve revenue purposes more than safety; in recent months motorists have complained that some speed limits are set artificially low or that warnings haven’t been mailed out during the 30-day grace periods that are implemented when cameras are first installed.
Today the Washington Times reports on a new twist-D.C. may have to forgive some 7,000 speeding tickets handed out by a camera in the Third Street Tunnel because they were targeting drivers going over 45 mph while the posted speed limit was listed as 40 mph. (According to D.C. law, police have to enforce the posted speed limit; in this case, they might lose out on revenue on drivers they know were going too fast simply because they had the cameras set at the wrong speed.)
Of course, for every article we write about how much money these cameras make, there’s no similarly easy way to measure how much safer they might make the city’s roads.