Drivers in the District, get ready to slow down or pay up.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s 2023 budget proposal includes an extensive expansion of the city’s automated traffic enforcement system in 2023, according to the Washington Post. Part of the overhaul, which would start in October, includes 170 new speed cameras (there are currently 85). Even more new cameras would penalize drivers for infractions like blocking bike and bus lanes or running stop signs—the budget projects that the expansion will cost $9.4 million to achieve.
The increase in cameras comes as part of the mayor’s $10 million pledge last year, which would be devoted to road safety measures following a series of fatal crashes. According to the Post, nine people have died so far this year in traffic collisions—following 40 last year, the most in over two decades. Tragic collisions just this March include an older driver who lost control of his vehicle and plowed into diners on the patio outside Chevy Chase DC restaurant the Parthenon, killing two women. A few days earlier, a young doctor was struck and killed by his own vehicle in Adams Morgan after an unidentified thief stole his car and sped off.
Critics of the District’s automated traffic enforcement point to the cameras as a high and steady revenue stream. According to a AAA report, DC issued—but did not necessarily collect—$1 billion in traffic and parking tickets in the three year period from 2017 to 2019. Another study found that the District fines its residents more than any other city in the country—including for parking and traffic-related infractions—at a rate of $261 per resident. The revenue reportedly dipped in the past two years as residents drove around less in the pandemic, though cameras still netted $1.3 million in the 2020 fiscal year, according to NPR, which was the same as the year before.
Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.