Many thanks to your paper for the July 21 front-page article telling readers how they can break traffic safety laws with impunity. Not only did the story describe a range of products that ostensibly make license tag numbers illegible on photo cameras, it also quoted prices and gave precise information on where the items could be purchased.
Too bad that reporter Dan Oldenburg didn't bother to balance the article with data on whether the number of car crashes at intersections with red light cameras has decreased or whether, as D.C. police say, the average driving speed in the District has dropped since speed cameras were introduced. Too bad also that he didn't bother to interview surviving family members of crash victims killed by speeders or red-light runners. But that probably would not have blended well with the "boys will be boys" tone of the article.
-- Ralph Blessing
The writer is chairman of the board of the Partnership for Safe Driving.
I found your anti-photo article very interesting. These big brother-type traffic camera programs are so ill-conceived that citizens are forced to protect themselves with such products.
Recently I was hot-rodding in the District early one Saturday morning. Within a five-minute period I was photographed going 31 mph in a 25-mph speed zone on two different streets. If I had been pulled over and given a ticket, that would have been a deterrent for me to stop speeding right away. Instead, I continued "speeding." Weeks later I received a ticket in the mail. On the highway speeders are pulled over and given a ticket so that they stop speeding right away. Ticketing speeders after the fact does not make any sense.
Thanks for the information regarding the inexpensive anti-photo products. I will definitely risk the $50 illegible tag fine to avoid the ridiculous $100 "speeding" fines.
-- Joe Coffey
As a D.C. resident who walks her dog around city streets, I see drivers run red lights every day. I have to be constantly vigilant for my safety and the safety of my dog because these drivers do not give us the right of way. Now your paper has given them the key to even greater success.
I hope the next time your reporters cover a car crash in which someone has been speeding or has run through a red light, you'll also note whether the driver's tags were coated with this anti-photo spray. And maybe you'll even ask whether the driver, assuming he or she is still alive, discovered this product through reading your article. I think the victims have a right to know.
-- Sue E. Barefoot