- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 30, 2004

The District’s newest photo-radar camera in Northeast caught 788 speeding drivers in the first 48 hours of enforcement, generating at least $23,640 in fines, police said yesterday.

The camera on Sunday caught 504 cars speeding in the 600 block of Florida Avenue, where the speed limit is 25 mph. On Monday, it caught 284 cars traveling above the speed limit, police said.

“All we want it to do is detect those people who are speeding aggressively,” said Kevin P. Morison, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department. “We hope it will result in lower speeds.”

Mr. Morison said speeders made up 17.9 percent of the 2,900 vehicles passing through on Sunday. He said the highest recorded speed was 73 mph.

Speeding drivers made up 13 percent of the 2,200 motorists in the area Monday, he said. The highest recorded speed that day was 58 mph.

The fixed camera, which is the first of its kind in North America, is near the entrance of Gallaudet University, an area where speeding has been a problem. Since 1998, at least four persons have been killed in speed-related accidents in the area.

Mr. Morison said police are in the process of mailing out the tickets to the speeding drivers. Those motorists with the highest speeds would be required to pay as much as $200 for the violation. Others would be required to pay at least a $30 fine.

Photo-enforced violations, however, do not carry any points in the District.

Police started issuing tickets on Sunday, almost a month after they activated the camera and began warning drivers who were caught speeding on Florida Avenue.

Police said they mailed an average of 585 warnings a day to speeding drivers, or more than 20,000 notices during the 30-day warning period that began Feb. 27. The highest speed recorded in that period was 88 mph, Mr. Morison had said.

Now, registered owners of the vehicles caught speeding will receive notices of infraction, with photographs of their vehicle and license-plate number and the speed recorded by the radar.

Motorists caught driving up to 10 mph over the speed limit will be required to pay a $30 fine. Those caught driving 26 to 30 mph over the limit will be ordered to pay up to a $200 fine.

All motorists are given up to 30 days to pay the fines or adjudicate the citation. Police will double the fines and track down those owners who don’t pay on time.

“At some point, we will turn it over to the collection agency,” Mr. Morison said.

The camera on Florida Avenue is expected to generate millions in ticket revenue.

Since the District implemented red-light cameras in 1999 and speeding cameras in 2001, the automated traffic-enforcement program has generated more than $70 million in fines.

Red-light cameras at 39 city intersections have generated more than $23.5 million in fines since they were set up in August 1999. Fines from the speeding or photo-radar cameras total more than $45 million since August 2001, when they were installed.

Affiliated Computer Services of Dallas operates the cameras and goes through the 35-millimeter photographs each day to find violators. Police help ACS by matching license-plate numbers to vehicle registrations and the registered owners’ home addresses.

ACS is paid $190,000 a month for the red-light cameras’ operation and upkeep and $570,000 a month for the seven speed cameras. The District initially expected to pay ACS a percentage of the fines, but later agreed to pay a flat monthly fee.

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