Greater Greater Washington

Tom Sherwood defends speed cameras

WAMU Politics Hour co-host, NBC 4 reporter, and Dream City co-author Tom Sherwood defended the District's speed camera enforcement program during a brief exchange with host Kojo Nnamdi on last Friday's show.


Photo by mdmarkus66 on Flickr.

Sherwood said he felt "irritated" by the May 29 Washington Post article by Ashley Halsey III on speed cameras. That story led off with the fact that one camera in the K Street underpass below Washington Circle wrote $8.1 million in tickets in 7 months.

The story did not talk about the effect of speeding on residents of Foggy Bottom, including seniors and families, or people walking to or from GW hospital, Sherwood said. From the Politics Hour transcript:

Kojo Nnamdi: Speaking of crowds, there seem to be a lot of crowds driving down K Street Northwest at rapid speeds or going through traffic lights because one camera on K Street Northwest has brought in more than $8 million into the District of Columbia's coffers during the course of the current fiscal year.

There was a camera on New York Avenue that used to come in first, but apparently, that has been surpassed by the camera on K Street. But we have to say that the District of Columbia government said, "This is not about the revenue. This is not about the money. This is about controlling traffic. The money means nothing to us."

Tom Sherwood: You know, I hear the skepticism in your voice. I hear the derision, the...

Kojo Nnamdi: Nothing.

Tom Sherwood: Well, let me say this, that'sthe Post storyI was irritated by the Post story. I think there's a story there about how the city is doing camera money, but to say that the city is getting a windfall from that one camera, ... [crosstalk deleted]

I was irritated the way other people play this story. On that K Street, the 2200 block or whatever it is, the cameras there, about 32,000 cars, vehicles go through there each day. The camera gives out about 300 tickets. Now, just math-wise, I think that's maybe 1 percent of the cars. The amount of money the city gets from ticket revenue is one-half of 1 percent of the city's entire budget.

And the Post story also didn't point out that since the city has been using speed cameras because citizens who live there, there's a hospital over there, there are senior citizens, there are families with children, they don't want those commuters rushing to get up onto the freeway going over into Virginia or in coming back. Since 2001, fatalities on the streets of the city from vehicular accidents has dropped 76 percent in part, Chief Lanier says, because we have speed cameras. Now, I can go on, but I think the point is made. There's ...

Kojo Nnamdi: Mayor Sherwood has spoken.

Tom Sherwood: So, yes, you know, ifI don't know that 25 miles an hour is the right speed limit for that tunnel. I think probably it sounds low. But if you move it up to 30 or 35, then you can only write a ticket for someone going 45, and then you're getting up close to 50. So, anyway, that's the issue. It's more than just the city taking in money. It's not raking in money. It's not squeezing people unfairly. No one says the cameras don't operate correctly. And as Chief Lanier always says, you can't get a ticket if you're not speeding.

[Crosstalk deleted]

Kojo Nnamdi: It's just that to the average person, $8 million does seem like a lot of money. But moving on...

Tom Sherwood: Maybe.

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

Comments

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I love Tom Sherwood, there's a reason he's the Dean of the DC Press Corps, he actually does journalism. The journalist's best instinct is skepticism of conventional wisdom, and in this case, the CW is that the city is just after revenue, and is somehow taking advantage of the average driver. This position has been advanced by AAA, and others, but it isn't accurate, and always leaves out that DC communities are asking for cameras, and are frustrated that they haven't been deployed quickly enough.

For the rest of the reporters that are beating this story to death, instead of interviewing a man on the street, attend literally any ANC meeting, and listen to all the people saying how a speed camera is needed on the main street nearest to them. The support for speed cameras among DC residents is very high because we are the ones suffering from dangerous roads.

Thanks Tom for calling out the ludicrous press pile-on for this story.

by Will on Jun 3, 2013 12:40 pm • linkreport

And even in this little blurb the word 'safety' is not used.

by Jasper on Jun 3, 2013 12:40 pm • linkreport

The word "safety" is not used? So what. Sherwood states the safety statistic: "Since 2001, fatalities on the streets of the city from vehicular accidents has dropped 76 percent in part, Chief Lanier says, because we have speed cameras."

There is at least a correlation between speed camera enforcement and public safety. Also, it's very simple to avoid speed camera fines, don't speed.

by JJ on Jun 3, 2013 12:48 pm • linkreport

Kojo at his reactionary finest.

by oboe on Jun 3, 2013 12:57 pm • linkreport

Kojo at his reactionary finest.
---

So, for failing to worship at the "we love speed cameras because they're our savior" altar, Kojo Nnnamdi is a "reactionary".

Thanks for clearing it up.

by ceefer on Jun 3, 2013 1:14 pm • linkreport

I think what Oboe meant was, "for failing to worship at the altar of safety, as opposed to the altar of speeding deadly reckless pedestrians where he currently kneels, Kojo Nnamdi is a reactionary." You're welcome, ceefer.

by MS on Jun 3, 2013 1:20 pm • linkreport

@ceefer,

Nothing to do with speed cameras. Everything to do with Kojo's glib reverence for the CW.

by oboe on Jun 3, 2013 1:26 pm • linkreport

I don't understand the below sentence:

But we have to say that the District of Columbia government said, "This is not about the revenue. This is not about the money. This is about controlling traffic. The money means nothing to us."

The city has said no such thing that I've heard. This is what Mayor Gray said:

When asked about a proposal that would cap the fines at $50, which is supported by at least half of D.C. council members, Gray said he would need to see a fiscal impact statement before signing on.

"Someone is going to have to demonstrate how it would be paid for, so that's the first question," Gray said.

That sounds quite different than "The money means nothing to us."

by Falls Church on Jun 3, 2013 1:34 pm • linkreport

Falls - we've been over that before. DC has to balance its budget, so if you reduce fines and thus lower revenue you HAVE to make it up somehow. Whatever the original motivation for implementing the cameras, or setting the fines, was.

That quote has been used before in an attempt to show the cameras are about revenue, and it has been shown to be misleading.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 3, 2013 1:38 pm • linkreport

AWITC -- I think a quote that says "The money means nothing to us" is far more misleading unless someone actually said that. If no one said that, than why is a quote? I doubt anyone would say that given that it contradicts the Mayor. I'd like to see a source that's more specific than "the District of Columbia said..."

by Falls Church on Jun 3, 2013 1:42 pm • linkreport

Im all for people citing quotes, but I disagree that it contradicts the mayor.

The need for a fiscal impact statement for changing the policy does not demonstrate that the motive for the policy is fiscal.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 3, 2013 1:46 pm • linkreport

AWITC, just because the original motive was not fiscal does not mean that it's fair to say "The money means nothing to us." Clearly, the money means something to them. However, I'd agree that just because the money means something to them doesn't *necessarily* mean that the policy is being influenced by money. Analogy -- just because my $10 donation to Barack Obama means more than "nothing" to him, doesn't mean that my $10 donation is influencing his policies.

If they really wanted insulate revenue from potentially influencing policy, they should take camera revenue out of the budget. Use the revenue to prepay general obligation bonds. That way if the revenue is there, great you prepay some bonds but there's also no problem if the revenue goes away or is lower than expected.

by Falls Church on Jun 3, 2013 1:54 pm • linkreport

I still like the idea of dedicating the revenue to the safety programs which is a more urgent need in the district than paying down gen obligation bonds.

DC should use its revenue from whatever source, in ways that benefit the residents of DC. I do not see why they have an obligation to not do that. To make the program more popular? But its already quite popular with residents of DC, as polls have shown.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 3, 2013 2:00 pm • linkreport

I still like the idea of dedicating the revenue to the safety programs which is a more urgent need in the district than paying down gen obligation bonds.

If it's an urgent need, then it should have reliable funding. If you fund it with camera revenue, there's a clear incentive to extract more money from speeders than is needed for the purposes of safety. It's kind of like the potential problem of for-profit prison companies lobbying for tougher penalties so they can make more money. I'm not saying that for-profit prisons or politicians necessarily do shady things like that, but why create a system where those incentives exist? While profit/revenue incentives are good in a lot of places, you want to keep them away from the criminal justice system.

by Falls Church on Jun 3, 2013 2:17 pm • linkreport

"If you fund it with camera revenue, there's a clear incentive to extract more money from speeders than is needed for the purposes of safety."

So call it a tax on speeding instead of a fine, and then it becomes one more revenue source instead of an offense against "justice" whosoever defined (again I do not share the view that deterrence limits the nature of just punishment). I still don't see at as proven that the motive is revenue, and even if it were, that is the business of the voters of DC.

And lots of urgent needs have much less reliable sources of revenue than this.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 3, 2013 2:29 pm • linkreport

"The story did not talk about the effect of speeding on residents of Foggy Bottom, including seniors and families, or people walking to or from GW hospital.

Ugh...the camera is in a tunnel, underground for ~1/2 a mile that completely bypasses Foggy Bottom above it.

If people are walking with their kids on K Street in the underpass, or trying to walk to GW Hospital through that underpass, then "speeders" aren't their problem.

by KStreet on Jun 3, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport

Kojo Nnamdi: It's just that to the average person, $8 million does seem like a lot of money. But moving on...

Well, sure, if you're a PERSON, $8 million is a lot. But if you're a CITY, $8 million isn't very shocking.

by Tom Veil on Jun 3, 2013 2:37 pm • linkreport

@KStreet - it's not just about the speed in the tunnel but rather the behavior it sets for outside the tunnel where there are pedestrians. People who are going 35 in that tunnel are likely to not being going 25 at the ends (25th and 21st)

by 7r3y3r on Jun 3, 2013 2:56 pm • linkreport

If this had anything to do with safety, why no continuous center divider rather than the exposed square edged support posts of the type in the Lady Di crash in 1997.

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Jun 3, 2013 3:35 pm • linkreport

@oboe et al.

Kojo gave Tom Sherwood the softball pitch knowing full well what Tom Sherwood would say. Can't you hear the suppressed smile on his face as he set this up? His job is to get Tom Sherwood to respond to the viewpoint many people have.

Compare ideological radio shows where the interviewer and interviewee are try to outdo eachother in advocating the same point of view.

by JimT on Jun 3, 2013 3:51 pm • linkreport

@kstreet
As someone who use to cross K st at 21st everyday, I can't tell you how many people came flying out of that tunnel to beat a yellow light, sometimes they did not and would almost hit pedestrians at very high rates of speed. Also the funky service road on K street often means there are cars merging where you wouldn't ordinarily expect it (especially coming off washington circle right there at 21st), when people come out of that tunnel at 35 or 40, there can be accidents. So see this particular camera saves cars not just people.

by nathaniel on Jun 3, 2013 4:12 pm • linkreport

Where *exactly* are the K Street Tunnel speed cameras? Are they within the tunnel, or at a traffic light intersection at either end?

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Jun 3, 2013 4:21 pm • linkreport

I believe they're at each end of the tunnel on the outside of the last pillars.

by 7r3y3r on Jun 3, 2013 4:36 pm • linkreport

They should be at the closest traffic light intersection at each end where there's the pedestrian flow.

http://wwwtripwithinthebeltway.blogspot.com/2013/06/washington-dc-war-on-drivers-war-on.html

They seriously need to clad those median posts in a jersey barrier- the square edged design is extra dangerous.

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Jun 3, 2013 5:11 pm • linkreport

I bet if there were cars driving 35 mph in the suburban neighborhoods these same people who hate the K Street tunnel cameras would be losing their minds.

I see it as:

DC citizens are not really people,

State Citizens pay all the taxes,

So why does it matter if I speed in their neighborhood? They should just move to VA or MD like a normal person if they don't like it!

It's such a disconnect - I mean, I grew up in Fairfax County, and you better believe 35 mph was considered too fast for the neighborhoods. But hey, some BMW drivers can't be bothered to slow down for all the 'others' who live in DC, and need to get home to Potomac ASAP.

It certainly doesn't help that most of the people getting tickets on K Street and NY Ave are probably new to the area and most likely feel nothing but derision for the whole DMV. Too many folks are just doing tours in DC, like it's Afghanistan, before they go back to Pennsylvania or what have you.

by MJB on Jun 3, 2013 5:31 pm • linkreport

I don't think it has anything to do with DC or its people in particular. People driving just want to get where they're going quickly and don't see any reason to not drive at a speed they feel comfortable at, even if that is unsafe.

I guess the "unfairness" comes in because they feel they don't have any say over the process. But they live someplace where people don't have to drive through their neighborhood to get to work, so get over it.

by MLD on Jun 3, 2013 5:45 pm • linkreport

"The average person thinks $8M is a lot of money" is the sound of a barrel of ideas being scraped from the bottom.

PS I seldom post, so gotta say I like the "new" verification system. Will it always be DC, or will we get to see maps of all the world's subways when we're proving we're human?

by ValdaVin on Jun 3, 2013 6:10 pm • linkreport

@Douglas Andrew Willinger - Why should the speed camera be at the intersection as opposed to their current location?

If this had anything to do with safety, why no continuous center divider rather than the exposed square edged support posts of the type in the Lady Di crash in 1997.

So for speed cameras to be worthwhile they have to solve all traffic safety problems? Or all traffic safety problems have to be resolved for traffic cameras to be acceptable? And anyway, the car Princess Diana was traveling in was going about 60 mph, she wasn't wearing a seat belt, and the driver was drunk.

by 7r3y3r on Jun 3, 2013 6:31 pm • linkreport

"There's a hospital over there."

I have now heard it all. So a hospital near a location means that we need speed cameras? What about a doctor's office? Chiropractor? Veterinarian? Funeral home? Cemetery?

By the way, the city could crack down on the medical transport vans from fly by night companies that break every traffic law in the book picking up patients at GW, but that would require actual officers exercising actual judgement. Better to just throw up another camera somewhere. Might I suggest another one on that heavily traveled pedestrian route I-295?

It really is getting ridiculous on I-295. My kids can't even play in the street anymore. My little one deserves a place like 295 to draw on the street with chalk and my older son and his friends should be able to ride their scooters on 295.

by dcdriver on Jun 3, 2013 6:57 pm • linkreport

Yeah, Gray never said that the money means nothing. He has denied that the ticketing programs are not only about money. The money is clearly an important factor because back in December 2012 he said he wanted to use traffic camera revenue to hire more police.

by Scoot on Jun 3, 2013 6:59 pm • linkreport

* He has denied that the ticketing programs are only about money.

by Scoot on Jun 3, 2013 6:59 pm • linkreport

Yeah, it's not like 295 has numerous on and off exit ramps that are really short with narrow travel lanes that would maybe be a factor in wanting lower speeds even if its not a place where you'd find pedestrians.

by drumz on Jun 3, 2013 7:13 pm • linkreport

"Yeah, it's not like 295 has numerous on and off exit ramps that are really short with narrow travel lanes "
------

The expressways in New York - and some of the older freeways in LA, both of which carry far more traffic than DC's 295 - also have "numerous on and off exit ramps that are really short".

Regarding "narrow travel lanes", the NY expressways have the narrowest lanes I've ever seen - and I've driven in every one of the 25 largest cities in the US. Somehow NY and LA manage with reasonable speed limits - and no speed cameras.

by ceefer on Jun 3, 2013 7:43 pm • linkreport

Falls church,

The relevant quote here is from Mary cheh in a New York Times article where she said "I know citizens sometimes don’t believe this,” she said. “I don’t want your money. I want you to stop speeding"

by David C on Jun 3, 2013 7:51 pm • linkreport

Ok, I'll trade the higher speed limits (while recognizing that "but there aren't pedestrians" is hardly justification for raising the speed limit) for the ability to toll DCs highways like NYC.

by drumz on Jun 3, 2013 7:54 pm • linkreport

"So for speed cameras to be worthwhile they have to solve all traffic safety problems? Or all traffic safety problems have to be resolved for traffic cameras to be acceptable?"

That's a strange statement when I already wrote that a camera could be fine if properly located.

Placing such in juxtaposition with the unshielded posts speaks volumes.

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Jun 3, 2013 9:24 pm • linkreport

"Sherwood states the safety statistic: "Since 2001, fatalities on the streets of the city from vehicular accidents has dropped 76 percent in part, Chief Lanier says, because we have speed cameras."

Yes, Chief Lanier makes that claim, ignoring the fact that a correlation does not prove causation. In fact, all the decrease in automotive deaths in DC is in the occupants of cars, none to pedestrians or other possible victims. Also in fact, the automobile death rate has declined drastically in the past decade, because of safer cars, e.g., air bags, protecting the occupants of cars from injury. The Chief is taking the fatality reduction due to automobile safety improvements and using that to justify speed cameras. It's utter nonsense, but she and her MPD cohorts prefer to believe what they want to believe, ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

by Jack on Jun 3, 2013 9:41 pm • linkreport

Douglas, the camera is intended to reduce or eliminate speeding. If there is no speeding then the "unshielded posts" won't be an issue. Underpasses are not freeways.

by Frank IBC on Jun 3, 2013 9:55 pm • linkreport

The speed limit in DC is 25mph unless otherwise posted. Stop violating the law and you won't be fined. There is even a 40% allowance of 10mph. Fines are to ensure compliance. They have nothing to do with safety. I understand that stretch of K Street feels like a drag strip (it is about a 1/4 mile) and revenue shows drivers treat it like one. That being said, the speed limit should be re-evaluated. 35mph would be appropriate given the fact it is inaccessible to pedestrians and is a major feeder road. There are also many other roads in DC that should have a speed limit commensurate with the road design and conditions.

by Sivad on Jun 3, 2013 10:59 pm • linkreport

Jack opines "Yes, Chief Lanier makes that claim, ignoring the fact that a correlation does not prove causation. In fact, all the decrease in automotive deaths in DC is in the occupants of cars, none to pedestrians or other possible victims. Also in fact, the automobile death rate has declined drastically in the past decade, because of safer cars, e.g., air bags, protecting the occupants of cars from injury. The Chief is taking the fatality reduction due to automobile safety improvements and using that to justify speed cameras. It's utter nonsense, but she and her MPD cohorts prefer to believe what they want to believe, ignoring all evidence to the contrary."

Yes correlation is not causation, but this is a comment section not a controlled scientific study therefore one does not generally provide significant depth to support their comments. Clearly this is the case with your generalizations which are easily shown to be suspect. For example, air ages were mandated in all passenger vehicles by 1991 legislation taking effect in 1998. The vast majority of vehicles on the road in 2001 already had airbags. That's not saying that improvements in vehicle safety have not contributed to improvements, but its not the only factor.

Vehicular related deaths have declined by about 28% since 2001. Indeed some of the decrease in DC could be attributed to the decline occurring nationally (which is likely to be interrelated to vehicle safety improvements). But 28% does not equal 72%, clearly suggesting that other factors have attributed to the decrease in DC. Is this all from traffic enforcement cameras, probably not but there is growing evidence that traffic enforcement camaeras do change behavior.

You clearly have an issue with both the general use of traffic enforcement cameras and the current police chief which you hide behind generic rhetoric. Again, there is a simple way to avoid fines from traffic enforcement cameras, don' t speed or run red lights.

by JJ on Jun 3, 2013 11:00 pm • linkreport

Anybody suggesting that a reduction in traffic deaths is solely or largely due to improvements in car safety is unwilling to accept easily available and well-established facts.

by Jasper on Jun 4, 2013 7:21 am • linkreport

Just slow down. I don't understand why this is so hard to understand, or such a big deal.

by Mike on Jun 4, 2013 7:57 am • linkreport

OK, here's a detailed analysis of traffic fatalities in DC, and the claim by the MPD that the decline since 2001 is due to their speed and red-light cameras:
http://dcjack.org/photo%20enforcement.html

Now, show me a comparably serious analysis that supports the MPD claim.

by Jack on Jun 4, 2013 8:11 am • linkreport

@JJ: I suggest that new cars are more cautiously driven, and that most fatalities are in older cars. New cars are driven be people with more money, whom are older and more experienced; older cars are driven by younger people with less experience, and more testosterone. So the effect of safer designs is mostly delayed until those cars reach the secondary market.

Also the safety improvements have not stopped with the introduction of air bags. My '92 had them, but my '06 added traction control and anti-lock brakes -- optional features that were expensive and somewhat rare in the 90s. There are still safety design improvements that will save lives as the fleet is replaced.

by goldfish on Jun 4, 2013 8:25 am • linkreport

"I suggest that new cars are more cautiously driven, and that most fatalities are in older cars. New cars are driven be people with more money, whom are older and more experienced; older cars are driven by younger people with less experience, and more testosterone. So the effect of safer designs is mostly delayed until those cars reach the secondary market. "

I would suggest that new cars are often driven by the affluent young, who often drive in very dangerous ways. Not the the guy in the, was it a Beemer or a Mercedes, who flipped coming off the key bridge a few weeks ago.

In the absence of any actual, data, my suggestion holds as much weight as yours.

But what we DO know is that the decline in fatalities in DC was 72% and nationally 28% in the same period. I would suggest that means something else is going on in DC.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 4, 2013 9:26 am • linkreport

Basically, what this means is that there is, in fact, a light at the end of the tunnel; it's just that it's a flash of light attached to a speed tracker.

by Mike on Jun 4, 2013 10:05 am • linkreport

@AWitC: See http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/Esv/esv16/98S6W38.PDF, table 5:
Car age (years) Accidents (per million km)
0-3 0.47
4-5 0.49
5-10 0.57
> 10 0.75
average 0.56

QED

by goldfish on Jun 4, 2013 10:09 am • linkreport

Hmm. Complaints about speed limits being too low or poor signage showing changes in speeds can be legitimate arguments (one reasonable people can disagree about). But the idea that you should be able to break the law and not face any consequences – that it’s unfair to face consequences for breaking the law – is an odd one. Though I have noticed that people get upset when you start enforcing laws they’ve been used to breaking (like drunk driving laws).

by Chatham on Jun 4, 2013 10:09 am • linkreport

I actually prefer the cameras to human enforcement - much less arbitrary.

You're not humiliated at the side of the road while 19 other speeders thumb their noses at the police officer who stopped you, because he was having a bad day.

by Frank IBC on Jun 4, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

Yes correlation is not causation, but this is a comment section not a controlled scientific study therefore one does not generally provide significant depth to support their comments.

So very true. I think there are a lot of reasons why people do not provide significant depth to support their comments -- one might be that they know their comments would be debunked if they did.

by Scoot on Jun 4, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

Jack and Scoot

If correlation doesn't prove causation, what does? Taken to its logical conclusion, you could observe the same result in a hundred experiments and dismiss it as merely a strong correlation. Correlation doesn't prove causation when there is no plausible link between two phenomena, or when there is some more plausible cause. But if there is a plausible link, then correlation is very strong evidence for causation. The correlation-causation caveat is routinely used in the social sciences to deny any causal connection that is inconvenient or embarrassing to the denier's ideology.

In this case the link is plausible, is it not.

by David C on Jun 4, 2013 11:04 am • linkreport

Correlation doesn't prove causation when there is no plausible link between two phenomena, or when there is some more plausible cause.

Actually there is a third sufficiency. Correlation does not necessarily prove causation when there are multiple plausible causes.

It is possible (probable, even) that speed cameras cause people to act safer, but there may be multiple reasons that cause people to act safer that have nothing to do with speed cameras.

The correlation-causation caveat is routinely used in the social sciences to deny any causal connection that is inconvenient or embarrassing to the denier's ideology.

That may be, but it doesn't make the caveat any less appropriate. I would add that I think on average there is more harm from inappropriately determining causation in order to promote a bad idea or a bad policy, than trotting out the caveat to deny an inconvenient truth.

by Scoot on Jun 4, 2013 11:13 am • linkreport

actually goldfish, that shows quite a high level of accidents in the first 3 years of the car's life. if safety features are what is driving the drop in fatalities, most of the drop should take place in those first few years.

And of course that doesnt explain why DC is different in its drop from the national numbers.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 4, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

@AWitC: This is a snapshot; it was not a comparison of new cars built in 1990, to those built in 2013. It does not show the effect of improved design.

by goldfish on Jun 4, 2013 11:20 am • linkreport

How does it explain the difference in the decline in DC from the decline nationally?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 4, 2013 11:26 am • linkreport

@AWitC: It explains the time delay between new car fleet safety improvements and reduction in passenger fatalities. It does NOT explain the difference between the decline in DC from that nationally. I leave that for others to figure out; perhaps it may partly explained by the lower speeds in urban driving?

by goldfish on Jun 4, 2013 12:07 pm • linkreport

If, as Will writes, Sherwood is the dean of local political reporters because he actually reports, Kojo is his polar opposite. Not only does Kojo often nod to the conventional wisdom, on several occasions I've noted that he quotes list serv posts and blogs (which themselves may be echoing other blogs), and passes them off as well-sourced factual reporting. Kojo is glib and entertaining, but his overglibness with the facts has diminished WAMU's reputation for good journalism and is the reason why I stopped contributing to WAMU's fund drives a couple fo years ago.

by James on Jun 4, 2013 12:40 pm • linkreport

Frank IBC-

The unshielded square edge posts would do massive damage even at 25 mph- no excuse not to shield them, unless the cameras are simply about technical violations ($$$). People going 35 or 40 mph within these tunnels are not the problem, but the transition areas are, hence the devil in the details of the camera's deployment.

That the authorities would juxtaposition such a camera with the unshielded pillars would speak volumes about WDC priorities and lack of such.

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Jun 4, 2013 2:33 pm • linkreport

At roughly $1 million weekly from the fines, how about spending some of that money upon installing a smooth continuous jersey barrier application to those square posts beneath Washington Circle?

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Jun 5, 2013 3:32 pm • linkreport

How about people just obey the speed limit. Then they wouldn't be risk either the fines fines or hitting the columns at a dangerous speed. Is that really such a difficult concept?

The Boulder Bridge on Beach Drive has an appropriate driving speed, and this roadway does, too.

by Frank IBC on Jun 5, 2013 3:54 pm • linkreport

At roughly $1 million *monthly* from the fines, how about spending some of that money upon installing a smooth continuous jersey barrier application to those square posts beneath Washington Circle?

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Jun 5, 2013 3:56 pm • linkreport

Depends on the speed limit, with 40 mph with the jersey barrier retrofit far safer than 25 mph with the unshielded square posts.

by Douglas Andrew Willinger on Jun 5, 2013 4:00 pm • linkreport

40MPH in the tunnel... ok. But by the time you're coming out into that camera's view you should probably be slowing down to regular street speeds for the crosswalks and traffic lights that await.

And that's why the limit isn't 40 - because it's f---ing stupid and unsafe to get everyone to speed up for 1000 feet only to have to slow down again.

by MLD on Jun 5, 2013 4:06 pm • linkreport

And that's why the limit isn't 40 - because it's f---ing stupid and unsafe to get everyone to speed up for 1000 feet only to have to slow down again.

I thought we all agreed that if 80% of human drivers do it, it's by definition "safe".

by oboe on Jun 5, 2013 4:11 pm • linkreport

Douglas, tonight's homework assignment is to document the actual number of serious accidents involving cars that have hit those columns in the Washington Circle underpass.

by Frank IBC on Jun 5, 2013 10:04 pm • linkreport

Speed cameras and traffic light cameras enhance enforcement of traffic laws. If people don't like them, eliminating them is simple. Make them useless. If you don't speed or run traffic lights, their purpose for existing will become too expensive to maintain. The proof of their need to exist is the obvious great numbers of traffic violations that are detected. No police force can equal this efficiency of enforcement of unlawful activity. I can only imagine the state of civilization if such efficiency could be employed toward other unlawful activity such as home invasion, armed robbery, car-jacking, burglary, manslaughter, Mayhem, murder, rape, stolen property, assault and battery and malicious mischief.

by Andrew Kingsberry on Oct 31, 2013 8:32 am • linkreport

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Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

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