District residents have long supported fines for breaking traffic rules, especially those that endanger children and pedestrians. A new D.C. Department of Transportation series of traffic controls, introduced by Mayor Muriel Bowser under a plan for enforcing public safety, entitled Vision Zero, has citizens questioning the reasonability of the strategies, however.
For instance, drivers in D.C. whose rates of speed are above the designated 15 miles per hour rate in school zones will received tickets of up to $1,000.
While believed to force drivers into obeying laws and eliminating traffic fatalities, residents like Ward 6’s Johnathan Buggers said the amount of the fines is more likely to create greater issues than the actual infractions.
“The District has become predatory in the way in which they manage fines – it is almost as if they are trying to punish beyond simply making drivers more aware,” Buggers said. “In a city where new parking regulations are in force for the disappearing number of spaces, and tow trucks are sitting at the ready for the slightest infraction, it makes enforcement seem more like a money-making scheme than an effort to enforce the law.”
In addition to rolling out 100 new cameras over the next two years, Bowser’s Vision Zero plan will increase the city’s automated enforcement, meaning less leeway for simple human error.
Gabriel Snider said when the city employed more traffic wardens, rather than cameras, incidents could easily be waived away without receiving citations in the mail and having to go through a contestation process. According to Snider, who lives in Ward 3, physical man hours used to enforce traffic rules would probably reduce the number of man hours needed to address adjudications later.
“I was stuck out in the middle of the street when an ambulance came through a few months ago. Once it passed I had no choice but to continue through the light or else be stuck in the middle of cross traffic. When I received a ticket in the mail almost a month later, I was shocked,” said Snider. “There was so much time and bureaucracy wasted on getting this ticket dismissed and it points to the problem of having too much automation doing the work of people.”
The city currently operates 153 traffic cameras, including 97 speed, 42 red-light, seven stop sign, and seven oversize or weight cameras.