Lori Aratani writes that the nation's worst drivers are being put on notice: "District officials plan to more than double the number of traffic enforcement cameras on city streets [bringing the total to 223]. And this time, it’s not just speeders and red-light runners who will be targeted. The city’s beefed-up automated force also will nab drivers who run stop signs and encroach on pedestrian crosswalks, and truckers who drive overweight trucks through neighborhoods where they are prohibited."
Why aren't more cities using speed enforcement cameras, and why aren't they being used to target more than just speeders if they are concerned about the rising number of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities? Use of cameras is governed by state legislation.
State laws vary regarding the use of enforcement cameras. The District and 13 states allow speed cameras. Twelve states have banned their use. Maryland’s law limits speed cameras to work zones and school zones. Virginia is among 29 states that have no law regarding speed cameras.
In nearby Maryland, legislators have taken to allowing communities to use traffic cameras, writes The Washington Post's Luz Lazo.
Speed camera programs have expanded quickly across Maryland since the state approved them in 2009. As many as 50 Maryland municipalities have speed cameras or red-light programs or both, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a research groups based in Arlington County.
While they are a proven safety tool - the IIHS reported that red-light camera use resulted in "a 24 percent decrease in fatal crashes caused by running red lights and a 17 percent decrease in fatal intersection crashes of all sorts", wrote Aratani, the public is conflicted as to whether they are being used for "revenue or safety".
In a follow-up article to answer motorists' questions on the use of the cameras in order to avoid being ticketed, Aratani wrote about the pedestrian cameras:
With the addition of 16 pedestrian cameras to D.C.’s automated enforcement arsenal, readers also sought clarification on the rules about whether they could be ticketed if they made a right or left turn while a pedestrian was in the crosswalk. Do drivers wanting to make a right or left turn have to wait until the pedestrians have completely cleared the crosswalk? [See answer].