by Marlene Berlin
The headline reads “District red-light cameras rake in revenue as more tickets issued last year.” The first paragraph by Ashley Halsey III begins: “The lucrative battle to keep drivers in the district from running red lights seems to be achieving more profit than success.”
This is yet another anti-photo enforcement piece in the Washington Post. The Post seems to be against tickets for motorists who break the law, because it enriches DC’s coffers. Or is it because it believes commuting drivers should be able to do what they want on our roads though they do not live here? About 75% of traffic tickets are out of District drivers.
We in Forest Hills look longingly at Connecticut Avenue north of Chevy Chase Circle and see how photo enforcement has tamed the drivers there. I wonder why Mr. Halsey has not written about the success there. And as there is success, the fines collected are reduced. Lisa Sutter, head of photo enforcement, has plenty of evidence of this, but interestingly, none of this evidence was in Halsey’s piece.
Forest Hills does have photo enforcement that has served to protect us. We have a red light camera at Fessenden and Nebraska to protect Murch, Deal and Wilson students walking to school. We also have one at Nebraska and Connecticut that has cut down on red light-running and crashes. Lisa Sutter installed a speed camera between Davenport and Ellicott on Connecticut, as requested in the Murch Safe Routes to School plan. And hopefully photo enforcement will be coming to our hazardous unsignalized marked crosswalks on Connecticut.
ANCs 3C, 3E, 3F, and 3/4G seem to understand, unlike the Post, the danger posed by motorists not obeying traffic laws. They all passed resolutions in support of increased photo enforcement last year.
There is an easy way to not enrich DC coffers, which seems to irk the Post and its writers: obey the law. This is a much better option, for it would make our streets safer. But if drivers want to continue to be stupid, we’ll gladly take their money. Eventually drivers will learn to obey the law and make it safer for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists, in spite of the Post’s reporting. I hope this day comes sooner rather than later.
What’s your perspective? We welcome your comments below. You also have a chance to speak your mind Tuesday, March 26th, at ANC 3F Commissioner Manolis Priniotakis’ meeting on safety concerns in 3F05; and Thursday, March 28th, when DDOT hosts a public meeting at Wilson High School about its moveDC initiative for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and transit users.