Frown! You’re on a D.C. speed camera.
Regarding the Oct. 24 front-page article “D.C. traffic cameras have drivers’ number (and loot)”:
D.C. officials say traffic cameras are primarily a safety mechanism, not a revenue-producer, but these tickets impose a very steep fine: $125. Where is the evidence that such a fee is required for cameras to serve as a deterrent to speeding? How often is such a high fine simply ignored? Would it not make sense to impose smaller fines? For many, it is the indignity of paying a fine, and not the fine itself, that is more likely to discourage speeding. For others, the fine is simply beyond their means.
D.C. police might also garner more support if they were seen enforcing other traffic violations — the use of handheld devices, for example, or unsafe passing of bicyclists. Using traffic cameras to collect $125 for every speeding violation in the District reflects poorly on the city’s ability to enforce traffic calming and raise revenue through more active policing of drivers.
Sarah Shoenfeld, Washington
I share the frustration of many drivers over the aggressive use of speed cameras in places such as the District. My suggestion: Call the bluff of D.C. authorities who claim the cameras exist to promote safety, not generate revenue.
Congress should pass a law telling the District that, while it may continue using speed cameras to issue traffic citations and fines, federal aid for the city will be reduced one dollar for every dollar the speed cameras generate. The continued use of speed cameras and the issuing of citations and fines would deter speeding (the stated purpose of the cameras), but the District would no longer have the incentive to be so aggressive in the use of the cameras. I suspect that once the revenue stream disappeared, the cameras would disappear as well.
The District could then go back to using police officers to enforce traffic laws, which would encourage the return of common sense and discretion in the enforcement of those laws.
David S. Green, Fairfax
If accidents are down on Interstate 295 in the District, it could be due to fewer cars on that road. I stopped using I-295 after a speed-camera ticket prompted me to examine the speed limit signs more closely.
Just after drivers enter northbound I-295 from the Beltway, Maryland Route 210 or National Harbor (pity all those poor tourists), the speed limit is 55 mph. It can’t be more than 100 yards later that the limit drops to 50 mph, and then somewhere after the 11th Street Bridge it becomes 45 mph. And guess where the two speed cameras are located? If you’re focused on the car in front of you, or you’re thinking about something besides road signs, you’re soon on candid camera.
I-295 is a huge cash cow for the District — and an underhanded one.
JoAnn Milliken, Alexandria