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Wells forming traffic task force to lower camera fines

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D.C. Council member Tommy Wells is forming a task force to study changes in automated traffic enforcement that could lead to lower fines, his office announced in a press release today.

The task force will examine whether generating revenue has taken a higher importance than safety.

Mr. Wells, Ward 6 Democrat, will ask the group to examine fines, automated enforcement plans and crash data.

In a release announcing the formation of the task force, Mr. Wells wrote that installation of more automated traffic monitoring devices should lead to more consistent enforcement and lower fines. However, some fines have increased by 250 to 500 percent in the last four years.

The budget for this fiscal year includes a projected $25 million in net revenue from the proposed expansion of traffic cameras that will cost the city $5.8 million.

Last spring, former D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown questioned the fines because he said they make residents angry.

Council member Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, will be asked to co-chair the task force. Mr. Wells wrote that AAA Mid-Atlantic, the D.C. Pedestrian Advisory Council, the D.C. Bicycle Advisory Council and the Council for Court Excellence have already agreed to participate. Mr. Wells has also invited AARP to play a role.

The task force will meet several times this summer to write recommendations. Mr. Wells wrote he is planning to bring legislation to Council incorporating the task force's recommendations in the fall.

Mr. Wells is believed to be considering a run for mayor in 2014.

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