Stop Sign Cameras in D.C.'s Future?

D.C. already snaps photos of drivers going over the speed limit and running red lights. Now, the city could become one of the first places in the country using cameras at stop signs.

A D.C. council task force is reviewing city plans to extend automated traffic cameras -- and camera fines -- to several more circumstances that would raise a total of $80 million per year beginning late next year.

Simple "Don't Block the Box" signs aren’t doing the job. Automated cameras would catch and fine you if you got stuck in a busy intersection.

Cameras would target vehicles that endanger pedestrians in crosswalks and would ticket overweight trucks.

And cameras would click on vehicles that don't stop at stop signs.

Council member Mary Cheh said tougher traffic enforcement is needed and police can't be everywhere.

“People blow through crosswalks all the time, and it's very, very dangerous,” she said. “These rolling stops are dangerous. We’re an urban jurisdiction. There are a lot of things going on at intersections you need to stop. Red-light running, I don’t care where you’re from, we don’t want anybody running red lights in the District of Columbia.”

The good news for drivers? The D.C. Council is considering lowering traffic camera fines, which are far higher than other jurisdictions, admitting the fines were used to raise revenue.

“That was plainly a matter for revenue raising and that‘s what has gotten people really angry,” Cheh said.

D.C. police Assistant Chief Patrick Burke said speed and traffic-light cameras do calm down traffic and the newer cameras will help, too.

“We'd address locations that have greater proclivity for pedestrians and crashes,” he said. “We would probably start, hopefully, with cameras in each ward, so hopefully two to three per ward as we roll out, but we do hope it’s in the budget and these are life-saving measures.”

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