The cameras — one catching southbound traffic and the other north — are on 295 just north of where it intersects with the Capital Beltway and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
Between Oct. 1 of last year and Aug. 31 of this year, the two cameras produced 161,399 tickets, with a face value of almost $15.9 million.
“Most drivers mistakenly assume D.C. 295 is an interstate highway or a U.S. highway, and they cruise along at what traffic engineers call the 85th percentile speed, which is the speed that 85 percent of the drivers on that freeway consider as the maximum safe speed for that location,” said AAA’s Townsend. “In fact, it is the only numbered route in the District that isn’t an interstate or U.S. highway. And drivers who aren’t aware of that are paying the price for that.”
The productive D.C. 295 cameras helped make fiscal 2012 a year of frustration for drivers who don’t like getting tickets and a lucrative year for the city tax coffers. The city has 47 red-light cameras and 46 speed cameras. Of the speed cameras, 10 are at fixed locations, 15 are portable and 21 are installed on police vehicles.
The information Townsend obtained, which covered all of fiscal 2011 and the first 11 months of fiscal 2012 ending Sept. 30, showed that the top 10 speed camera locations caught 423,783 speeders and issued tickets worth $41.6 million.
Overall, the city raked in $178.4 million in traffic fines in the last fiscal year, according to the most recent cash estimates from city financial officials. That’s a 32 percent jump from the previous year’s take and a 62 percent jump from two years ago.
The bulk of the increase was driven by camera enforcement, which increased from $26 million in fiscal 2010 to $84.9 million in fiscal 2012 — a more than threefold jump. The fiscal 2012 totals were first reported by the Washington Examiner.
Camera fines are on pace to outstrip all other traffic fines combined by next year.
Traffic fines accounted of 2.7 percent of locally raised city revenue in 2012.
Speed cameras are employed in Virginia if authorized by local ordinance.
In Maryland, they are used in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and statewide in construction zones. Those construction zone cameras last year produced 473,708 tickets, worth $18.9 million if everybody paid up. D.C. speed cameras, in the first seven months of fiscal 2012, pumped out 225,000 speeding and red-light tickets, with a value of $30.3 million.
Speed cameras have drawn the wrath of some drivers in the Washington region and elsewhere.
In July last year, Maryland State Police troopers closed the Baltimore-Washington Parkway for more than three hours to search for a man who had smashed the windshield of a police sport-utility vehicle that had speed cameras mounted on it.
This month, Montgomery police said, someone knocked down a Georgia Avenue speed camera and then drove off.
In Poland, two men were arrested after they were caught using black spray paint to disable a speed camera in Gdansk. In Italy, someone shot a speed camera in Cremona. A Latvian man posted a YouTube video that showed him kicking over a speed camera in Riga. Scottish vandals decapitated two cameras with a saw.
In Saudi Arabia, some drivers in Riyadh simply put a veil over their license plates.
Crump said drivers in the District ought to slow down.
“Just slowing down a few miles an hour will increase pedestrian survival rates considerably,” she said. “Put simply, an adult pedestrian hit by a car going 30 mph has an 80 percent chance of living. If the car is going 40 mph, there is an 80 percent chance that the pedestrian will be fatally injured. Traffic safety is more important now than ever with the population and development in the District rising and more people and bicyclists on the road.”