- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Metropolitan Police Department has added two new speed cameras and a red-light camera to its traffic photo-enforcement system, which has generated more than $113 million in fines since 1999.

The new photo-radar cameras are aimed at westbound traffic in the 600 block of New York Avenue Northeast and in the 3400 block of Benning Road Northeast. The red-light camera will target northwestbound traffic at Florida and New York avenues in Northeast.

The cameras were activated yesterday, police said. A 30-day warning period will be in effect until Oct. 15, when authorities will begin mailing notices of infractions to violators.

“We’ve had a number of fatal crashes in those areas,” said Lt. Byron Hope with the department’s traffic safety coordinator. “People speeding and flagrantly violating [traffic laws], that’s a big problem altogether.”

There are no immediate plans to expand the system further, police spokeswoman Kaylin Junge said yesterday.

The two stationary photo-radar cameras bring the city’s total to 10. The District also has 12 mobile photo-radar vehicles rotating throughout more than 70 enforcement zones.

The newest red-light camera is the 49th in the District. There are already two other red-light cameras at the intersection, for southeastbound traffic at Florida Avenue and the westbound traffic on New York Avenue.

Police and city officials say the program makes streets safer by discouraging drivers from speeding and running red lights.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that the District led the country in reducing the percentage of traffic fatalities from 2003 to 2004, with a 36 percent decrease.

The number of traffic fatalities in the District dropped from 69 in 2003 to 45 last year, the lowest total in at least 18 years, police said.

Police officials will not directly connect the reduction to the cameras, but say the cameras are integral in making city streets safer.

In July, the most-recent month of statistics available, about 3.7 percent — or 25,843 of 703,346 — of motorists were speeding in surveilled areas, according to police statistics.

In comparison, 30.9 percent of monitored vehicles were caught speeding in July 2001, the program’s first month.

Fines for speeding can be as much as $200. The fine for running a red light is $75. No photo-enforced violation in the District carries points.

The city’s automated photo-radar system has generated more than $81 million since it began collecting fines in August 2001. Its automated system for photographing red-light runners has generated more than $32 million in fines since 1999.

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