Image via WikipediaMy blogging buddy Harrison over at Just Politics posted an article today called Klosing the Kalifornia Budget Gap: Katch Speeders! He points out that California included a provision in their latest budget to allow jurisdictions to add speed sensors to red light cameras. Violations come with a heavy fine of $225-$325. He also talks about how much revenue the state would expect to generate from the speed cameras.
His post reminded me of news that has occurred locally here in the DC area. The argument rages on as to whether or not speed cameras and red light cameras are legitimate tools for traffic safety or tools to raise revenue in these tough economic times. Lawmakers say that the purpose of any of these cameras are to make the roads safer, not to raise revenue. Like the old saying goes, however, actions speak louder than words.
The state of Maryland recently made it legal for speed cameras to be placed throughout the state. Previously, only Montgomery County had the cameras in place. In Montgomery County they are looking at moving away from the fixed speed cameras to mobile speed cameras. The reason? Revenues from the cameras have dropped significantly and they have a budget shortfall. MOCO expected to bring in $29.3 million but only managed to generate $17.8 million because they issued over 280,000 fewer tickets than expected. One camera generated 12000 tickets the first month, but now only issues 2800 month.
In my home county of Prince George's County, the county government was set to place some fixed speed cameras in school zones. The county executive, Jack Johnson, decided instead to go with mobile units. The reason for the change? Projected revenues from the fixed camera project were too low.
If safety were truly the goal of the cameras, then revenue should not be a factor. Since the cameras are issuing fewer tickets, they have had the desire effect of changing driver behavior. Unfortunately governments, especially heavily Democrat governments like MOCO and PG, are addicted to taxing their constituents and are counting on that revenue. So, when their policies accomplish their goals and change behavior, they have to find more ways to replace the funds.