Since 2008, Washington D.C. has been implementing dozens of mobile speed cameras disguised as green mailboxes next to bushes or trees where they are hard to see. These are much more convenient than pole-mounted cameras since they’re battery operated, can be moved easily and don’t involve underground wiring. But motorists don’t like them because of the hefty fines they get slapped with if they happen to be going over the speed limit.
The revenue from D.C.’s speed cameras combined with their red light cameras totaled $85 million last fiscal year. The year before that, they brought in over $50 million. That’s a considerable amount, considering they’ve got a population of just over 600,000.
But to D.C. politicians, that’s just not enough. The red light and speed cameras bring in only so much money. They need another stream of income.
So, they’ve decided to start installing stop sign and crosswalk cameras. The Washington Examiner reported a few months ago:
“The cameras will dish out $50 tickets for stop sign violations and $75 tickets for cutting in front of pedestrians. D.C. police promised to install the cameras last fall, but now police spokeswoman Gwen Crump says it won’t be until early summer that the 32 stop sign cameras and 16 crosswalk cameras will be deployed. ‘We’ve been in implementation since [October] and expect to roll out these new units in early summer,’ said Crump. ‘We will announce the new technology as we move closer to finalizing it.’ Camera program manager Lisa Sutter said last summer that the cameras would ticket only ‘egregious violators’ who speed through intersections and that the crosswalk cameras would be placed at intersections known for pedestrian accidents.”
That was a few months ago, and MyFoxDC spotted a stop sign camera yesterday.
That last bit about how they will place the cameras only in places “known for pedestrian accidents” is their “proof” that this isn’t about raising boatloads of cash. It’s about safety. But coincidentally, the places prone to accidents are going to be the places that yield them lots of money. So, that could also be the “proof” that this is all about money.
I think it’s obviously an easy way to raise lots of money. And when they again grow complacent with the additional revenue they’re going to make from these new cameras, they’ll move them around to another “accident prone” area or come up with another “crime” to target.
Notice that they haven’t yet targeted pedestrians and cyclists. They could require pedestrians and cyclists to register with the District and wear license plates so that they too can be ticketed for jay-walking, riding on the sidewalk or helmet violations. Just think of all the money they could make from that. They’re basically sitting on a gold mine of revenue opportunities that they haven’t yet tapped into. For safety reasons, of course.