Effectiveness of red-light cameras in Washington, DC, questioned

| 4/7/2006

It’s no secret that red-light cameras can be a revenue booster for municipalities nationwide. But do the automated enforcement devices actually reduce crashes?

If one newspaper in the Washington, DC, area is correct, the answer is a resounding “no.”

According to an analysis by the Annapolis Capital, cameras in the District of Columbia accounted for $2.85 million in additional fine revenue and about 38,000 tickets since the year 2000. However, the collision rate has not shown a measurable difference in the past 10 years.

While traffic volumes have increased during the past decade, the collision rate fluctuated but did not drop significantly, the newspaper reported. What’s more, city officials were unable to provide an exact figure demonstrating the cameras’ effectiveness.

“We can’t know the number of accidents that haven’t occurred,” Lt. David Waltmeyer, a spokesman for the city’s police, told The Capital. However, he added, “If we prevent one person from running a red light and killing another motorist, we think it is appropriate.”