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Posted at 8:21 PM ET, 12/ 6/2010

When the work is done, turn off the speed cameras

By Leslie Blakey, Washington

For at least 10 years, the District has usually hit the high notes of a well-implemented photo-enforcement program, so it’s especially unfortunate that it should lose public trust in a work-zone camera program that remains in place once the work is finished [“Speed cameras and resentment linger,” Metro, Dec. 3].

Lower speed limits, with well-marked, ubiquitous ticket cameras and double fines, do help make work zones safer for workers and road users, but once the work is done, drivers are justified in expecting normal road conditions to return. Otherwise, the program will be undermined as drivers suspect a cash-grab.

As District residents have seen, photo enforcement is a proven technology that can greatly enhance road safety when the integrity of the safety-grounded purpose is maintained. Unfortunately, many American communities jeopardize their programs by failing to adhere to recommended practices and principles of fairness, such as removing photo-enforcement cameras once the safety threat has been eliminated.

Too often, municipalities do not adopt clear-cut parameters for designing and managing programs, resulting in inconsistencies, excessive reliance on contractors and, ultimately, public distrust. This should not become the fate of the District’s long-standing, effective initiative.

The writer is executive director of the National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running.

By Leslie Blakey, Washington  | December 6, 2010; 8:21 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, traffic, transportation  
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Comments

Many people are not aware that your organization is actually sponsored heavily by photo enforcement companies, so let's put that out there.

Second of all, photo enforcement, both speed and red light cameras have yet to be proven effective by a comprehensive independent study. At best, cameras provide mixed results, at worst, they actually INCREASE accidents. Cities and states across the country have ended their camera programs because they failed to increase safety, Loma Linda, CA being the most recent.

Photo enforcement is NOT about safety, it is about cash. If it was about safety, comprehensive engineering studies would be performed at dangerous road locations, and all solutions evaluated. Many times simple engineering solutions such as adding yellow light time will have dramatic results.

Particular road locations aren't dangerous due to an unusual concentration of bad drivers frequenting the area - dangerous locations are cause by flaws in road designs. It is a further leap that taking a picture of someone and mailing them a bill a few weeks later would deter bad drivers and get them to "change their behavior" as camera vendors like to claim. Most accidents are caused by not paying attention, and no camera is going to make an inattentive driver aware of his lack of attention.

Posted by: photoradarscam | December 6, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Removing the signs whent eh work is done is the answer, not turning off the cameras. The latter would be only a license to break the posted legal limit on the roads.

Of course photo enforcement is about safety. The black helicopter conspiracy set may argue all they want to the contrary, but we know their complaint is no more than a protracted whine against being held accountable for their own lawbreaking.

Posted by: krickey7 | December 7, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Speed cameras are not and cannot be installed in a fair manner. Their goal is not traffic safety, their goal is to generate income. They are placed to generate income, not to prevent accidents.

How do we determine where to place a camera? How do we properly balance placements so that we are not targeting certain residents while leaving other residents alone? Should we target richer neighborhoods with more speed cameras than poorer neighborhoods? Should we place more of them along routes to industrial jobs than to office jobs? Should we place more of them around expensive shopping centers?

This, of course, is no different than the bias for police pulling people over for speeding. On very low traffic density country roads, you have a much better chance to get away with speeding than you do on a highly trafficked urban road.

When police pull people over for speeding, hopefully their motive is safety, not 'meeting a speeding ticket quota'. The motivating factor behind traffic laws needs to be safety, not income. And sadly, it is not.

Posted by: GabrielRockman | December 7, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Just drive at the posted limit.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 7, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

For all the whiners and complainers out there that just hate those darn unfair speed cameras...there's a very simple--and free--solution to this injustice: Obey the speed limit. No speeding, no ticket. See how easy that is?
I guess some of us think it's ok to break the law as long as we aren't caught by a live police officer in real time.
The word 'limit' is not synonymous with 'guideline.' If the speed limit is 55 MPH, why then, that's the HIGHEST speed that you are allowed to drive....not 59, not 65, not whatever everyone else is driving....

Posted by: Permitfraud | December 7, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I am in full support of the opinion of Mr./Ms. Blakey and support the use of camera enforcement. In the December 3rd article, Assistant Police Chief Burke was quoted as saying that the camera was only operating from 7 am to 1 pm "when workers are present." So I'm not sure what the facts are about the construction being totally completed. I hope that Assistant Chief Burke and the Transportation Department officials will take another look at what is going on and if the construction is actually completed, remove the camera.

Posted by: RobertM468 | December 7, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I am in full support of the opinion of Mr./Ms. Blakey and support the use of camera enforcement. In the December 3rd article, Assistant Police Chief Burke was quoted as saying that the camera was only operating from 7 am to 1 pm "when workers are present." So I'm not sure what the facts are about the construction being totally completed. I hope that Assistant Chief Burke and the Transportation Department officials will take another look at what is going on and if the construction is actually completed, remove the camera.

Posted by: RobertM468 | December 7, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Why take them down? If the construction is done then why not enforce our traffic laws in NON-construction areas too, our the lives of my children worth less than a construction worker or do they just have a better lobby?

Posted by: estuartj | December 8, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Just drive the speed limit and stop complaining...break the law and pay up.

Posted by: dnlldcrsy | December 8, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

I don't travel DC roads too often, but I have used some roads that are 6 lane divided highways (3 lanes each way) with a 35mph posted limit. This kind of highway should have a 45mph limit, and I suspect that many drivers would not focus on the 35mph since there would be no inate sense of speeding with that many lanes. In addition, getting into the traffic flow from an off ramp during rush hours might require going over the limit to merge into traffic. I don't know if the speed camera captures an instantaneous speed or tracks for a mimimum distance, but the former would seem to be unfair.

Posted by: sylvanlipov | December 9, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm... why is everyone so eager to get rid of them? Oh wait, it's because everyone is revving up to start speeding through that area again! Maybe if drivers weren't so eager to speed in the first place, they wouldn't be so upset that the city figured out a way to catch them.

Posted by: Loopla | December 10, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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