The District is hauling in a record amount from its speed camera tickets, but the police say it's not about the dollars.
So far, with four more months to report in the current fiscal year, the cameras have brought in $25 million. That's more than the total numbers for fiscal 2007 and 2008, and is $4 million ahead of earnings last year at this time.
“We are not doing this for revenue, but to modify dangerous driving behavior,” Police Chief Cathy Lanier told The Washington Examiner via e-mail Tuesday. “Safety is the primary objective. For the past two years, we’ve had the lowest number of traffic fatalities [40 in 2008, 33 in 2009] since we’ve been keeping record.”
Maximizing revenues clearly has been a priority, however, as the city deals with projected budget shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Mayor Adrian Fenty submitted a budget that counted on taking in $40.7 million from speed camera tickets in the current year. For 2011, $56.8 million in revenue is projected, for a 40 percent jump.
The District has 10 fixed photo radar cameras and also added 12 mobile speed cameras in July. Currently in the midst of an "educational phase" in which speeders get warnings in the mail, the mobile cameras will start yielding real tickets Aug. 11, according to a police department memo.
Arlington update » Running a red light in Arlington County is more likely to cost you now. No more warnings from the county's four new red light cameras, starting Wednesday. They'll now be yielding real tickets, and the county has stated that it may install up to 20 cameras should these prove successful.
John Townsend, spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said speed cameras are issuing more and more tickets, collecting more revenue, and don't seem to be changing drivers' habits.
"The fact that you're not changing the behavior is puzzling to groups like triple AAA," Townsend said. "It seems that the District has been paying lip service to traffic safety, but people realize it's all about the revenue and they're not changing their behavior."
For a complete list of "Photo Radar Enforcement Zones" in the District, go to http://mpdc.dc.gov/mpdc/cwp/view,a,1240,q,548201,mpdcNav_GID,1552,mpdcNav,|31886|.asp.
The Washington metro area has a total of 274 traffic cameras, according to the camera-tracking database POI Factory.