Of course: D.C. on cutting edge of citizen-gouging traffic camera technology

posted at 6:01 pm on April 29, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Washington, D.C. brought in $90 million in tickets last year, giving an average of seven tickets a minute. They’re more efficient, quicker, responsive, and dedicated to this one pursuit than anything else the city does. And, they’re about to get even better at it:

D.C. is planning to install traffic cameras early this summer to catch drivers who roll through stop signs and don’t yield for pedestrians at crosswalks.

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.

Even in a city rife with statists, stop sign cameras are much less popular than red-light or speed cameras, according to a recent survey, holding a 50 percent approval rating “[w]hile 87 percent and 76 percent of 801 D.C. residents surveyed favored red-light and speed cameras.” (Seriously, guys?)

As usual, I’m not telling you about D.C. so you can weep for the citizens of the Capital City, but because it’s a symbol of how government operates and what its priorities are. Beware, oh Houstons of the world where you might maintain a modicum of taxpayer-funded roadway outside the view of surveillance cameras built to extract every possible penny from you. As your economies boom and places like Illinois continue to become nothing more than giant, unfunded pension plans bleeding contributors, the liberal city-dwellers will leave the places they’ve financially ruined and try to ruin you, too.

I ran into a stark, personal example of government’s priorities yesterday as I toured the fair city of Philadelphia. My car was towed from under some unclear city signage…at 6:15 p.m. on a Sunday. Do not weep for me, either. I can take personal responsibility for my mistakes, and am no stranger to being bitten by the parking police. But here’s the question. How many routine civil services do you reckon the people of Philadelphia could avail themselves of at 6:15 p.m. on a Sunday. The list would be quite short and responsiveness questionable, but my car was towed lickety-split.

Adam Carolla offered a delicious rant on the subject recently when one of his employees, driving an automatic transmission, was nailed with an $85 ticket for not turning his wheels a certain way while parked. The law is, of course, a relic of a time when everyone drove a manual transmission and could at least conceivably endanger surrounding property and cars by leaving the car out of gear, but this car was in no such danger. Nor are, what?, 90 percent of L.A.’s parked cars? So, why does the law still exist? Because L.A. needs a bunch of people’s money, not because it’s interested in making life better for its citizens. Enjoy the first 15 minutes of his recent podcast, here. He’s a man who boasts one of the greatest triumphs of modern humanity, having jailbroken his car and driven it off a tow truck once, so he’s worth a listen.

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