More widespread deployment of automated enforcement sensors could change the system from one of high fines and sparse enforcement to one that encourages more extensive behavior change.

2 minute read

August 22, 2023, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


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Orhan Çam / Adobe Stock

In an opinion piece in Greater Greater Washington, John Leibovitz calls on the District of Columbia to double down on its automated traffic enforcement program. Despite common concerns about privacy and equity, Leibovitz argues that boosting automated traffic enforcement (ATE) is “an essential tool” for reducing roadway fatalities and ensuring compliance with speed limits and other road rules. 

The district already plans to triple the number of cameras it installed during a recent pilot program, but Leibovitz says many more are needed to ensure widespread compliance. With less than one percent of the district’s streets covered by ATE, this won’t have an impact on ‘global’ driving behavior. The sparse placement of cameras also brings up questions about equity, which areas get protection, and which drivers get ticketed. “It is important to note that both questions are intimately related to the first limitation–the scarcity of cameras–which inherently drives both a logic of high fines and raises hard choices about where to deploy them.”

Leibovitz advocates for a “safety zone” model of deployment that uses abundant sensors to replace a system of high fines and irregular enforcement with “a paradigm of widespread compliance with much smaller fines designed to ‘nudge’ drivers to safer behaviors on a more continuous basis.” An enhanced ATE program would also give cities more data, create a more immediate driver feedback loop, and could inform more tailored enforcement strategies.

Monday, August 21, 2023 in Greater Greater Washington

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