Criminology research says that “swift, certain, and fair” punishments work better than infrequent, highly punitive ones. Traffic cameras offer a way to make enforcement work, if done correctly. Street safety is a big problem, but there’s a lot of reason to doubt that raising a fine from $50 to $500, when people rarely get a ticket for the infraction, will actually do much. There’s also reason to worry that getting police to make more traffic stops could exacerbate existing racial disparities in traffic stops (aka “driving while black”).
However, leaving our roads dangerous isn’t the answer either. We need to find ways to eliminate traffic deaths. Is there a way to enforce traffic laws that’s “swift, certain, and fair“? More traffic cameras in more intersections could achieve the “swift, certain, and fair” enforcement.
However, DC would have to change a few things. Right now the cameras are anything but swift, and could also be more certain and fair. Make tickets come faster (swift). Add more cameras (certain). Lower fines and more neighborhood cameras (fair).