I got a holiday card from the District of Columbia this week. It was an automated ticket for a moving violation, running 58 MPH in a 45 MPH zone. Looks like I was speeding through the 3rd st. tunnel under the US Capitol on our trip back from Thanksgiving at my parents.
There were 2 photos in the card, with info on the back showing how to interpret the image. They show that the pics were taken 0.2 seconds and that I’d traveled approximately 16 feet. I did the math and got this:
17 feet in 0.2 seconds = 85 feet in 1 second = 306,000 feet in 1 hour
306,000 feet / 5280 feet per mile = 57.95 MPH
Route 395 runs through DC and has a complex set of tunnels as it travels under the national mall. It’s a set of curves and hills that begs to be sped through and I remember giving the throttle a little push on that traffic-less Saturday morning. I didn’t see the flash of DC’s speed camera catching me exiting the tunnel at 13 MPH over the limit. I now know that when I see those horizontal marks on the pavement I need to slow the hell down. And I need to tint that back window ’cause I gots some junk in my trunk.
(01/28/09: The 3rd st. tunnel will now be known as the Purple Tunnel of Doom in solidarity for all the 2009 inauguration purple ticket holders who got corralled inside and missed the event. Epic fail.)
I’ve heard of red-light cameras used to catch people running lights but never heard of speed cameras. The red-light cameras usually shoot from the front and can get an identifiable shot of the driver. Since the shot of my car was from behind I’m being billed as the owner of the car, not the violator, so the ticket isn’t going on my record and I’m not getting any points off my license. It’s almost like a parking ticket, although I wonder if my insurance company will get any record.
There has been some dispute about how red-light cameras are implemented. Some jurisdictions have been accused of shortening the yellow light cycle to raise revenue. Ironically, Dallas’ red-light cameras were so effective that people stopped running reds, and now they don’t get enough revenue to keep the cameras maintained.
I’m not going to dispute the ticket. I know I was cooking through that tunnel. But there are plenty of stories of drivers getting pissed of at cameras and taking vengeance on the poor little buggers. A guy in the UK melted one with a welding torch. The French are shooting, painting and hammering theirs. Another dude in the UK blew a camera up, only to have the explosion trigger the shutter and catch him in the act. And Maryland residents are accusing DC of discriminating against them because they get 64% of the tickets issued from automated cameras.
The best story is of these 4 hoons getting their mugs shot on a speed camera in the UK. They had just stolen the car and got their pic taken as they sped off on their joy-ride. They assumed since it wasn’t their car they couldn’t be connected to the license plate number. The car was found torched and the cops found one of the 16 year olds. It mustn’t have taken long for them to find the others after this shot was published in the local paper.