- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 3, 2004

The District’s speeding cameras targeted commuter routes in April, when the automated program generated a record $2.3 million in fines.

Of the 19 zones monitored by speeding cameras in March and April, 12 were located near New York Avenue NE, the Anacostia Parkway or the D.C.-Maryland border — routes used primarily by commuters.

According to Metropolitan Police Department statistics, 78 percent of the District’s 65,007 automated speeding citations in April were issued to out-of-towners — 52 percent to Maryland drivers, 16 percent to Virginians and 10 percent to drivers from other states. City residents account for 22 percent of speeders caught by the cameras.

D.C. officials say safety, not revenue, drives the police department’s automated traffic-enforcement program, which comprises 39 red-light cameras and 65 speed-enforcement zones throughout the city.

Police spokesman Kevin P. Morison said the department’s six car-mounted cameras are shifted among about 20 zones every month. The list of zones in the rotation is regularly assessed, with changes made based on police observations and residents’ suggestions, he said.

“The cameras aren’t moved from a location until we have a [substantial] impact on speeding there,” Mr. Morison said. “We’re usually at a location for three months or more.”

Speeding cameras have monitored the 2800 block of New York Avenue NE — the program’s most lucrative location in March and April — since January.

That zone — a six-lane, divided highway bordered by two service roads in a commercial area — produced 10,480 speeding citations, or about 16 percent of issued citations in April, according to police statistics. At the program’s minimum fine, the zone generated at least $314,400 that month.

What’s more, five zones — the 2800 block of New York Avenue NE, two locations on the Anacostia Parkway, the 100 block of Michigan Avenue NE and the stationary camera in the 500 block of Florida Avenue NE — caught 40,911 speeding vehicles in April, accounting for more than 60 percent of the vehicles cited for speeding by the program.

“It’s easy to say it’s all about [revenue], but that’s not what Mayor Williams or Chief Ramsey’s objective is,” mayoral spokesman Tony Bullock said last month, referring to D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. “This is a public-safety issue. [Speeders] are putting the innocent and themselves in harm’s way.”

Yet three of the 10 most-dangerous intersections in the District — 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, First Street and New York Avenue NW, and North Capitol Street and New York Avenue NW — are not monitored by traffic cameras. The three intersections had 34 hit-and-run accidents and 40 injury-producing accidents in 2001, the most recent year for which data are available, according to the D.C. Department of Transportation.

Meanwhile, the District’s seven speeding cameras — one stationary camera mounted on a pole and six mounted in cruisers — have generated more than $49 million in fines since the program’s implementation in August 2001. In April, $2,324,888 was collected, topping the system’s previous high of $2,188,290 in January 2002.

The District’s $6.2 billion budget for fiscal 2005 adds six more cruisers equipped with photo-radar cameras. The new cameras, which will cost $6.4 million, are expected to generate an additional $7.2 million in ticket revenue in fiscal 2005.

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