D.C. Council approves 88 more traffic cameras

Drive through the District and you know traffic cameras can get you anywhere. Now D.C. leaders have passed a budget that will add 88 more traffic cameras.

While that has drivers crying foul, District leaders insist its all about keeping residents safe.

According to D.C. crime data, there have only been six traffic fatalities so far this year. At the same time last year, there were 14 fatalities. That's a 57 percent drop.

Ashu Ako of Alexandria said, "I think people are just more cautious, really with zebra crossings."

Most agree that D.C.'s new biking infrastructure is protecting bicyclists, and the Street Smart Pedestrian safety campaign is raising awareness.

But, Metropolitan Police and DDOT believe the automated traffic cameras are helping.

George Branyan, DDOT's pedestrian program coordinator, says, "Because it does have a very positive effect on slowing people down and preventing crashes."

However, AAA Mid-Atlantic says the decrease in fatal accidents is a nationwide trend, citing safer cars, more drivers wearing seat belts and less cars on the road during the recession.

As for those camera?

Lon Anderson, with AAA Mid-Atlantic, says, "We know they're very good for the DC's coffers. They make great revenue. Are they good for safety? I can take you out to any number of cameras and point to them, and you have to say, 'I don't think that cameras doing anything for safety.'"

The new high-tech camera can do more than just detect driver running red lights or speeding. They can also tell if a motorist is blocking a crosswalk or speeding through a green or yellow light.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray says, "This really is about public safety... and let me underscore this is not about revenue, but revenue is a factor in this because our budget is balanced on the basis of that."

D.C.'s camera program generates around $55 million per year. The addition of 88 cameras is expected to generate another $25 million per year. So, a total of 166 cameras and $80 million.