Smarter cam­eras watch­ing traf­fic

100 next-gen­er­a­tion de­vices eye vi­o­la­tors

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY AN­DREA NOBLE

A driv­ers’ ad­vo­cacy group is de­cry­ing the lat­est ex­pan­sion of the Dis­trict’s au­to­mated traf­fic en­force­ment pro­gram.

D.C. po­lice ac­ti­vated 100 new “next-gen­er­a­tion” traf­fic cam­eras Satur­day to tar­get a grow­ing num­ber of mo­torist vi­o­la­tions rang­ing from fail­ure to stop for pedes­tri­ans in cross­walks to block­ing the box.

The new cam­eras boost the num­ber of au­to­mated traf­fic en­force­ment de­vices op­er­ated by the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice Depart­ment to nearly 300 cam­eras — an ex­pan­sion that AAA Mid-At­lantic called the “nu­clear op­tion.”

“It gives a new mean­ing to the phrase ‘all over the map,’ ” said John B. Townsend II, a spokesman for the group. “Mo­torists will en­counter a plethora of au­to­mated traf­fic en­force­ment cam­eras in ev­ery quad­rant and quar­ter of the map and streetscape of the city.”

In ad­di­tion to com­bat­ing what po­lice call “ag­gres­sive and dan­ger­ous driv­ing habits,” the cam­eras will also gen­er­ate in­come for the city through new fines rang­ing from $50 to $250 per vi­o­la­tion.

The po­lice depart­ment be­gan us­ing traf­fic cam­eras in 1999 and al­ready op­er­ated 197 other cam­eras that ticket driv­ers who speed or run red lights.

“This pro­gram is about traf­fic safety. Here in the Dis­trict of Columbia we’ve ex­pe­ri­enced a re­duc­tion in traf­fic fa­tal­i­ties over the last 10 years, about 70 per­cent,” As­sis­tant Po­lice Chief La­mar Greene said. “That would be my ar­gu­ment that this is def­i­nitely work­ing.”

The new cam­eras will be used to tar­get five traf­fic is­sues.

Six­teen cam­eras trained on cross­walks will record driv­ers as pedes­tri­ans step into the cross­walks, and vi­o­la­tions will be is­sued for driv­ers who fail to stop for the pedes­tri­ans when they have the right of way. Twenty grid­lock cam­eras will also cap­ture the li­cense plates of ve­hi­cles that fail to clear cross­walks or in­ter­sec­tions be­fore a traf­fic sig­nal changes and block traf­fic. Another 32 cam­eras will be placed at stop signs to ticket driv­ers who do not come to a com­plete stop, and 24 speed cam­eras will be placed at in­ter­sec­tions.

Ad­di­tion­ally, po­lice are try­ing to curb the amount of com­mer­cial traf­fic in some neigh­bor­hoods and are in­stalling eight cam­eras that will be able to de­tect over­size trucks that are not al­lowed to use small neigh­bor­hood streets.

The new cam­eras will also come with new fines — though po­lice plan to only is­sue warn­ing tick­ets for the first month.

Fail­ure to clear an in­ter­sec­tion or stop at a stop sign will cost $50 while fail­ure to yield the right of way for pedes­tri­ans in cross­walks will re­sult in $250 tick­ets.

Speed and red-light cam­era tick­ets have been a boon for the city in past years. Rev­enue from the cam­eras jumped from $42.9 mil­lion in 2011 to $95.6 mil­lion in 2012, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures pro­vided by the city.

Chief Greene said a team of sworn of­fi­cers and civil­ian em­ploy­ees will re­view the pho­tos and video from the cam­eras be­fore is­su­ing tick­ets to en­sure that vi­o­la­tion notices are valid.

“There is a three-tiered check that we do be­fore any [no­tice of in­frac­tion] is is­sued,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.