The Cameras Lack One Element
I come from a rural area that at this moment is getting pounded by the “Polar Vortex.” Indiana to be exact. Coming from a place where roughly half a mile or more spans between intersections, it was startling to drive half a mile and hit 6 - 8 of them. I wasn’t used to this stop-start type of driving, but I caught on quickly when I noticed police at almost every intersection. Then I noticed the cameras…
Most people in D.C. Metro know by now the “all seeing” traffic cameras have turned on and are watching our every move. We need to get something understood right off the bat, though. These new traffic cameras are looking for license plate numbers when an automobile violation occurs. These violations include: speeding (fine $50-$300), failing to clear an intersection (fine $50), failing to yield to pedestrians at an intersection (fine $250) and overweight trucks in restricted truck weight zones (fine $150-$250). With all these automated cameras we (as drivers) need to understand the cameras do not hold the human elements of compassion and empathy. In fact, these cameras see nothing but violations. So if you think you may be reimbursed a fine or two for waiting for a cross-walker don’t hold your breath, the cameras don’t care.
The United States Census Bureau claims D.C. holds a population of 632,323 residents. In 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that 25 pedestrians were killed in D.C. from vehicle strikes. NHTSA then released that the fatalities had dropped to 19 deaths in 2012. That is a mere 0.003 percent of D.C.’s population. Although deaths from traffic accidents have dropped to a very low number, that number still has not reached zero and it may never do so. This is due to the “human element,” a factor of mistake and error.
What these numbers do not show is how many people illegally crossed the street and expected traffic to stop for them. These numbers don’t show how many drivers stopped, when they had the right of way, to let a mother and her child cross the street to get out of the rain. These numbers do not indicate the honest mistake that a driver can make when approaching an intersection and someone runs out from between two parked cars only to be met by an oncoming vehicle.
People are going to make mistakes and as much as we want to punish them for making those mistakes, we need to also realize there are other factors that can come into play. I’m sorry Washington, but people are not all the same nor the situations. I vote that these violations be reviewed by a human prior to being administered to a fellow human. Sounds like that could take a good deal of time, doesn’t it? Maybe the city will then learn we as residents are more than just voters, tax payers and law abiders.
As for the drivers, I suggest popping in a favorite CD or tuning into a favorite radio station. Enjoy the traffic, it comes with living in a city. I also would like to challenge every D.C. driver to make a point to smile and wave the next time a pedestrian crosses the intersection in front of you. Who knows, you may just be the person on the crosswalk next time. Oh, and if we all start driving safer and crossing intersections with more caution, those “all-seeing” cameras may just disappear, but it’s a team effort.