Drivers in Washington, D.C., may have something new to worry about as they pass traffic cameras: under a new bill introduced to the D.C. Council, they could give drivers caught breaking the law points on their licenses.
Council Member At-large Christina Henderson authored the bill as a way to combat a recent rise in traffic deaths.
According to the legislation, 37 people died in 2021 due to traffic violence, which represented a 10-year high. Proponents argue the new traffic camera penalties would also free up police officers across the city.
“This legislation would set the District on the path to be a leader in traffic enforcement systems,” Henderson said in a statement. “We must use and hone all available tools to meet this crisis.”
Some pedestrians and bikers are ready for the council to crackdown on safety.
"I think it definitely has the potential to work. As a biker in the city, it can be really scary just right beside another car, feeling like they can do whatever or go as fast as they want, so anything that would insure the safety or more safety for our pedestrians or bikers would be great," cyclist Isabelle Williams said.
Henderson said she looks forward to a debate on the bill, but acknowledges that it may be a tough sell for some D.C. drivers.
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"I think that's awful. I think it's an invasion of privacy. I think if they're gonna make me pay, that they need to catch me," driver Cutter Hodierne said. “We’re going down a slippery slope where you’re taking photos to get people for crimes and I think, what seriously, like what’s next? What will they be getting us for next?”
Others are not convinced of the cameras effectiveness.
"I don’t think they’re a nuisance," driver Kara Davis said. "I don't think they’re doing much to prevent the issues that traffic presents in the city. I think people still take a lot of illegal turns. I think they’re still going right on reds when they shouldn’t. There are a bunch of pedestrians and bikes being hit.”
A representative for Henderson’s office said now that the bill has been introduced, they expect a referral to the transportation committee. Then it will need a hearing and markup before the council can vote.
No date has been set for that hearing.