Take the pedal off the metal, the District just deployed a dozen new speed cameras. For safety’s sake, they say. Really? Because we thought we heard someone say CASH COW.
That’s what the American Automobile Association heard, too. AAA Mid-Atlantic noted that the addition of 12 new mobile radar sites puts Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration on track to shatter the all-time, photo-enforced revenue record set during the last fiscal year. That’s when the city raked in $33.7 million in speed camera swag.
“Motorists were concerned when the Fenty Administration announced it was increasing traffic fees and fines and enlarging the number of speed cameras and red-light cameras to help balance the District’s shrinking budget,” commented John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Despite all the lip service, it’s really all about the revenue … and not about building a climate and community in which traffic safety is highly valued and pursued.”
As of the end of May, reported AAA Mid-Atlantic, the District had already collected $24.8 million in speed camera revenue. The District has sent violation notices to 354,000 drivers during the current budget year, notes the auto club, compared to 326,000 tickets in the same eight-month period a year earlier. And those figures don’t include the city’s revenue from red-light camera infractions. As of May, the District had issued 57,790 automated red-light tickets, and has already collected $4.8 million in fines.
Under the fiscal year 2011 budget, the District plans to increase the number of photo-radar enforcement tickets, generating $40.7 million during this budget cycle. However, with only four months left in the current fiscal year, the District will have to write a whole lot more speeding tickets to meet that goal, notes AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Enter the recent deployment of twelve new mobile radar units, two of which are situated in work zones where speed fines can be doubled, but that’s one part of the program in which we give the city a pass. We’re in favor of doing as the sign says: “Give Road Crews a Brake.”
For the record, we’re also in favor of safe driving in non-work zones. But don’t whisper “safety” in our ears while you’re leaning in to pick our pockets.
AAA Mid-Atlantic shares the concern about traffic safety. The group said speeding remains a constant problem on area roads. In a recent survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, almost one quarter of motorists reported speeding 15 mph over the limit on residential streets and almost half reported exceeding the speed limit on freeways by 15 mph. Not good. Like traffic crashes, traffic tickets are preventable, warned AAA Mid-Atlantic.
New mobile radar locations:
New work zone camera locations:
Motorists ticketed in the newest enforcement sites will receive warning tickets for the first few weeks. The MPD will begin issuing live moving citations to violators on Aug.11.