The numbers are absolutely staggering. Each and every day, the speed cameras of D.C. are flashing, and raking in millions of dollars, much to the chagrin of drivers. Our Special Assignment Unit dug into the numbers to find the main hot spots, where the most tickets are issued.
WUSA9 sent a "Freedom of Information Act" request to The Department of Motor Vehicles to get the most up-to-date data, and was given the numbers for a seven month period, between October, 2016 and April, 2017. In that period of time, $87 million has been collected, including roughly $35 million at the top five cameras alone. The top collector, at 600 Kenilworth Ave NE, has brought in approximately $11 million.
Here's a break-down of the top five collectors in the city:
Number 5: 1400 Block South Capitol Street NB - Approx. $5 Million
This camera can be found on the northbound lane of South Capitol Street, right after leaving the Frederick Douglass Bridge. The camera, which is in the shadow of the Nationals' Stadium, has issued 30,446 tickets for $4,787,413.
On the same island, you'll find another speed camera pointing at the northbound lane. This camera is the seventh greatest collector, issuing 25,857 tickets for $4,132,564. That means on this one stretch, by Nationals' Stadium, roughly $9 million has been collected. Be sure to slow down by Nats Stadium!Number 4: 2200 Block K St NW E/B - Approx. $5.5 Million
The fourth biggest collector is located in Foggy Bottom, and can be found as you go downhill into the underpass on K Street. This camera is responsible for 36,398 tickets bringing in a remarkable $5,476,855.
Remember this location, because we'll be back to this area for number two on the list.Number 3: Route 295 SW S/B (South of Exit 1) - Approx. $6.3 Million
Number three on the list is the only camera in the top five on a highway. It's located on Route 295, as you head toward Maryland. Approximately 0.7 miles south of exit one, this camera has been a steady collector. In that seven month period, it has issued 40,982 tickets for $6,364,406.Number 2: 2200 Block K St NW W/B - Approx. $6.8 Million
Number two on the list is no more than 200 feet from number four on the list. In the same underpass, this camera is facing the westbound lane, and raking in millions. In the seven month period, it collected 45,466 tickets for $6,759,234.
Just as with number four on the list, drivers are heading downhill with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour, which may be a cause for the high number of tickets. Many drivers have contacted DC Council members about this camera, calling it a "speed trap."
Number 1: 600 Block Kenilworth Ave NE S/B - Approx. $1 Million
Perhaps no camera has been the source of so much rancor as this one. It is located near the intersection of Route 295 and Benning Road, although the circumstances stink of a "speed trap," according to AAA and community members.
The camera is actually not facing the highway, but an exit ramp from Kenilworth Avenue. It's nestled behind a concrete barrier, ready to catch unsuspecting drivers as they pass by. Complicating the matter is a nearby sign, stating 50 miles per hour. This is actually meant for drivers on the highway, although it can be confusing for those on the exit ramp. The actual speed limit on this stretch of road is 25 miles per hour.
"Speed Traps" or Necessary Evil?
It's been the debate since the technology was created. While cameras no doubt save lives by urging people to slow down, they can also cause a financial burden when over-used. Council member Mary Cheh told WUSA9 she was concerned, because if all these cameras worked, the number of violations would be going down rather than up.
"If the signage isn't working," she said. "Then maybe something else would work. Because the ultimate objective here is not to give tickets. It's to have people drive within the speed limit."
In August, Cheh wrote a letter to Jeff Marootian, the Interim Director for the D.C. Department of Transportation, voicing her concerns. She asked the department to review their cameras and to evaluate if they were "speed traps."
"In some instances," she wrote. "Cameras exist in areas where the speed limit may not be apparent or are arguably too low."
Cheh also brought up the speed cameras at the 2200 block of K Street. She said the letters have poured in from constituents, many who believe this is a "speed trap."
In late-October, Marootian responded to Cheh with a letter of his own, saying that the department will "assess, and if needed, install supplemental signs over the next 60 days," at the 22 locations collecting more than $1 million.
Marootian also emphasized the effectiveness of these cameras in saving lives, referencing a DDOT study completed last year.
"The study found a 16 percent reduction in total crashes," he wrote. "A 19 percent reduction in injury crashes, and a 40 percent reduction in speed-related crashes."
Our Special Assignment Unit has also broken down the top Red Light Cams in the City. Check out our breakdown here: