This week in Washington, DC, officials acknowledged that the district had seen a dramatic drop off in revenues from tickets issued by speeding and red light cameras because of malfunctioning batteries. While some authorities had been quick to applaud the traffic cameras for reducing the number of speeding and red light violations, it seems that increased safety is not the primary factor in fewer tickets being given out.
The Washington Post reported that when the local police department took over the maintenance of the cameras from American Traffic Solutions, the contractor who sold the district the cameras, the upkeep faltered, causing outages. Assistant Police Chief Lamar D. Greene said in a statement that “extreme cold and snow” last winter contributed to a number of battery failures. “We could not change the batteries because they were not accessible, or the temperature affected the charge,” Greene said. “We have taken additional steps to enhance internal temperature controls since last winter, alleviating this problem.”
In fiscal year 2014, Washington, DC raked in less than $34 million, down $38 million from around $75 million the year before. That dramatic reduction in revenue caused the city’s financial officials to worry, but “maintenance concerns never figured into city officials’ public explanations for the shortfall,” the Post stated. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier even applauded the cameras, saying “This demonstrates that drivers are changing their behavior. The fact that infractions are going down is a good thing in my view. Automated traffic enforcement is and always has been about safety.”
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