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D.C. Council Members Question Purpose Of Traffic Cameras

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The District's traffic camera fines have been a growing source of revenue for the city.
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The District's traffic camera fines have been a growing source of revenue for the city.

Skyrocketing traffic camera fines have a pair of D.C. council members asking whether the new technology is being used for safety purposes or to boost city revenue.

There's no question D.C. traffic camera fines are going up, with some fees increasing by as much as 500 percent over the past four years. The automated traffic enforcement program is a growing source of revenue for the city.

The latest budget calls for an additional 88 cameras, which D.C. officials estimate will bring in more than $30 million. Neighborhood and pedestrian safety groups argue traffic cameras help deter drivers from speeding and running red lights.

But a D.C. Council task force will meet to see if the fines can be lowered without sacrificing public safety. Council members Tommy Wells and Mary Cheh, as well as representatives from AAA Mid-Atlantic and several pedestrian and bicycle safety groups, will hold the task force's first meeting Tuesday at the Wilson building.

Wells plans to introduce a bill lowering the fines when the Council officially returns from recess in September. If the fines are reduced, lawmakers will have to figure out how to replace any lost traffic camera revenue that was penciled into this year's budget.

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