Letter to the Editor: Speed cameras set up to catch you

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Some question whether speed cameras are set up to entrap drivers. (file photo)
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Having spent virtually all of my adult life chided by family and friends for my slow driving, it is no surprise that in nearly 30 years behind the wheel I had only been cited once for speeding.

However, over the last 18 months something has changed. I have gotten five speeding tickets. Have I suddenly become a speed demon? No. The reason is that D.C. is now littered with electronic speed traps: cameras strategically located to entrap drivers.

So, having written yet another check made payable to the D.C. treasurer, I decided to review the numbers. It turns out that D.C. has more than 300 speed cameras. Yes, with just 0.2 percent of the U.S. population, Washington, D.C., has more than 20 percent of the total U.S. speed cameras. And they use them.

D.C. issued nearly 1 million speed camera tickets in 2016. That is nearly double the number of speed camera tickets issued in 2015 and almost two tickets per resident. In fact, the city raked in nearly $100 million from speed cameras alone last year.

Additionally, the camera locations seem carefully chosen not according to the danger to public safety, but by where the speed limit and the design of the road seem most at odds.

For example, one monitored location is at the bottom of a hill where K Street NW passes under Washington Circle. It is a section of road designed like a divided highway. Yet, despite its appearance, the speed limit (if you can find a sign) is only 25 mph. No surprise that this camera delivers big bucks to the city.

The numbers are shocking and the evidence is clear. This program is nothing more than a stealth tax. And it is sad that the D.C. government, instead of using this technology judiciously for public safety, appears hellbent on creating one more way to line its pockets with the hard-earned money of ordinary residents for the crime of simply making their way to home, to work or to school.

– Paul DonVito, Foxhall Village