While some drivers bristle at use of the cameras — including many who travel New York Avenue from the Maryland suburbs — an overwhelming number of District residents surveyed are pleased with the citywide deployment of them.
The nine New York Avenue cameras, spread over about three miles between the Washington Times building and Third Street NW, generated 93,313 tickets and almost $11.8 million last year. Five target red-light violators; four go after speeders.
The volume of license plates from Maryland, Virginia and other states on the avenue points to an obvious fact: Many who pony up the money don’t live in the District.
Anne T. McCartt, senior vice president at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, has studied District driving and speculates that folks who roll in from elsewhere may be less happy with the “Welcome to Washington” ticket program.
“Non-D.C. residents may experience more of the downside of receiving camera tickets without perceiving the benefit of safer streets,” McCartt said.
People who live in the District apparently do, McCartt found when she surveyed them late last year.
“The surprising thing about this survey is that very large percentages of residents supported the red-light cameras and even the speed cameras,” she said.
In fact, 76 percent said they favored use of speed cameras and 87 percent supported use of red-light cameras.
In an earlier study of cities where red-light cameras are used, including the District, McCartt found a 24 percent reduction in fatal crashes caused by red-light running and a 17 percent reduction in fatal intersection crashes of all sorts.
She later did one of the most in-depth studies of red-light
cameras after they were introduced in Arlington County. That study
found a 48 percent drop in the running of red lights when at least a second had passed since the light changed. Those one-
second violations, as cross traffic has begun to enter an intersection, are most likely to result in accidents and fatalities.
Red-light cameras are banned in nine states, while 11 states allow them with limitations. Ten states and the District permit them, and 20 states have no laws. Virginia allows one red-light camera per 10,000 residents if approved by local ordinance. Maryland permits red-light cameras statewide.
In the District, supporters of traffic cameras said in the survey that they felt safer with the cameras in place. In a reflection of the evolution away from driving in a city with ample mass transit and increasing infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians, 24 percent of those surveyed said they had not driven a car in the past month.