War on Cameras

One DC Traffic Camera Generates $12 Million in Revenue!


Via Instapundit comes this Wash Post piece about an incredibly lucrative traffic camera in the District of Columbia:

[Here's what a] single speed camera on New York Avenue [accomplished] in 23 months.

Tickets issued: 116,734.

Fines levied: $11.6 million….

"We believe we have made an impact," said Gwendolyn Crump, spokeswoman for the D.C. police. "There have been 16 fatalities in 2012, compared to 28 at this time last year, for a 43 percent reduction of traffic fatalities. There is great value in slowing drivers down not only for their own safety, but also for safety of all other traveling parties."

Cameras that spew out tickets to errant drivers have been a game changer in the District and 13 states, which use them to nab speeders. In the District and 24 states, cameras are also used to snare red-light runners. They generate far more revenue than even a legion of police officers sitting beside the road could hope for, raising anger among some people who say they are more about money than safety.

DC's traffic-fine revenue is up 62 percent from two years ago. Read the whole story here.

It's far from clear that traffic cameras actually reduce accidents, much less fatalities, on an ongoing basis. Note that the figures cited above by DC police are for the city as a whole and that given the massive numbers of passenger miles driven annually in the area, the difference between 16 and 28 statistically approaches zero.

Reason TV talked with Los Angeles activist Jay Beeber, who successfully challenged the City of Angel's use of traffic cameras. Beeber argues that far from making driving safer, red-light cameras often cause more accidents than they prevent—and that cities use them as revenue generators. Watch that here.

Earlier this year, Reason TV reported on DC celebrity chef Geoff Tracy's efforts to route around a traffic-camera speed trap outside his restaurant:

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  1. And I was like baby, baby, baby oh
    Like baby, baby, baby no
    Like baby, baby, baby oh
    I thought you’d always stay yellow

  2. Is there a medical term for an impacted asshole?

    1. Anal prolapse?

    2. Cranial rectal inversion?

  3. If it’s just about safety, why don’t they give all the money to the public defender’s office?

    In fact, let all fines and forfeitures go to the PD office. I’m sure they won’t dramatically plunge or anything.

    1. You spelled public pretender wrong.

      1. With funding they might actually be useful.

        1. Keeping conviction rates high by encouraging their overcharged clients to take plea bargains isn’t useful?

          1. It’s still better than the system in Texas, or at least, Houston. Here, counsel for the indigent is appointed by the judge, who naturally doesn’t have a backlog of cases, and would love to appoint an attorney who might actually bring a case to trial.

            Pretty bad when you have to look up to the dream of having a PD’s office.

    2. Give the money to the schools. Earmark it all for education. Do the same with all seized assets as well. Then watch the cops cry as all that money goes away. Why do cops hate children?

      1. LOL. Isn’t D.C. like the worst public school system in the country despite having the highest per pupil rate? Like it costs $20k+ per student per year and over half of the kids graduate functionally illiterate. They’d be better off getting the money in cash and burning it in barrels to keep the city’s large homeless population warm.

        1. I think you’re exaggerating. I don’t believe that over half of the kids graduate.

  4. The increase in issued tickets is because they’ve expanded the type of violations the cameras capture. My coworker recently got a $150 ticket for a rolling stop in DC.

    1. He got off easy for the automotive equivalent to playground genocide.

  5. If it’s the camera I’m thinking of, I’m not surprised at all.

    It’s 45, then for about 30 yards it’s a 25 zone. There is a speed camera there in the middle of the smallest 25 zone on the planet. Then it’s back up to 45.

    1. There are a handfull of small towns (e.g. Baldwin, Citra, Waldo) along US 301 in north Florida that are notorious speed traps. The speed limit is 65 mph, but will then drop to 55 to 45 to 30 mph in rapid succession for 1/2 mile then back up to 65. I read once that Lawtey gets something like 70% of city revenues from speeding fines.

  6. This type of automation is killing the US jobs market. You could put a person up that pole, with a radar detector, and a walkie-talkie. When he finds a speeder, he radios to two newly-hired PSOs who do the youtube “invisible rope” trick in front of the offender. Behind the bushes, we have some freshly-minted real cops, with full-on SWAT gear, who can gun down the car’s tires (but hopefully not the driver, because we need him to pay out) when its driver realizes there’s actually no rope and attempts to flee. Then, in addition to the speeding citation, we can levy fines for damage to public property, and endangerment to the lives of a police officers.

    More money, more jobs, society wins.

  7. [Here’s what a] single speed camera on New York Avenue [accomplished] in 23 months.

    Tickets issued: 116,734.

    Fines levied: $11.6 million….

    Sounds like an opportunity for non-violent civic protest to me. But then, they’d probably charge the protestor $12 million for the camera.

  8. So all we need are 1,333,332 more of these cameras and we can get balance the budget!

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