D.C. cameras hit Maryland drivers hardest

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Speed cameras have generated $99.9 million in fines since August 2001, including a record $28.9 million last year. Red-light cameras fines have totaled more than $35 million since 1999.

Officials have already collected more than $5 million in fines from the speed cameras so far this year.

At that rate, the program is on pace to bring in more than $30 million this year, which would easily surpass last year’s record total of $28.9 million.

The program, which began with six cruisers outfitted with cameras, now has 12 camera-equipped vehicles rotating through nearly 80 enforcement zones and 10 cameras at fixed locations.

There are 49 red-light cameras at intersections in the District.

The department and city officials have maintained that safety, not revenue, drives the decisions concerning the program and that city officials have minimal influence in determining enforcement zones.

The percent of speeding motorists has steadily declined since the speed-camera program began in July 2001, when about 30 percent of monitored vehicles were traveling above the speed limit.

And there has been a 73.2 percent reduction in red-light runners since those cameras were implemented in 1999, according to police statistics.

Police do not have any statistics showing a correlation between the automated enforcement program and traffic deaths or crashes.

Traffic fatalities in the District last year increased to 49, up from 45 the previous year, according to police statistics.

Chief Ramsey said he is pleased with the speed-camera program’s progression. The steady decline in speeding motorists, not revenue, is the mark of the cameras’ success, he said.

However, the chief admitted he wasn’t sure whether the cameras permanently alter driving habits or if motorists merely clean up their acts while within one of the city’s enforcement zones.

“I would like to think behavior has changed [because of the cameras], but I don’t think you ever really know,” Chief Ramsey said. “But the numbers are impressive, so something is there making people change driving habits and become more careful and obedient of the law.”

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