War on Cameras

One DC Traffic Camera Generates $12 Million in Revenue!

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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: