Nightly News   |  June 04, 2013

Questioning the motives behind speed cameras

There are now 150 communities in 13 states that use speed cameras to catch motorists violating the speed limit, racking up millions in ticket revenues. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back as promised with the story about the exploding number of speed cameras popping up on roads across this country. police departments are turning to them as an automated way to enforce speed limits , while allowing officers to do other things. but the amount of money they are raising for local jurisdictions is raising some natural questions among drivers. our report tonight from nbc's tom costello in washington .

>> reporter: it was just a quick drive from one side of st. louis county to the other.

>> this is the street that i was on.

>> reporter: anna darr isn't exactly sure where the speed camera was.

>> well i admit that i was speeding, i was going approximately 40 miles an hour.

>> reporter: her fine, $110, 150 communities in 13 states now use speed cameras , some are stationary, some are mobile. and no city has embraced them more than washington , d.c. , where more than 90 speed and red light cameras are spread across the city. police chief kathy lanier.

>> just the shear impact on reducing traffic fatalities in my opinion has made it worth every penny of investment.

>> traffic deaths dropped 70 two years ago to 19 in 2012 .

>> it's not just speeding on high speed roads. it's speeding on city streets , arterials, across the board.

>> reporter: okay full disclosure this speed camera in washington , d.c. , got me. according to my ticket i was doing 38 in a 25. my fine? $92. it turns out this is washington 's busiest camera, generating more than $8 million in ticket revenue this year alone but even though 58% of d.c. drivers admit they, too, have gotten a ticket, 76% of residents support the cameras. still nationwide opponents argue they've become nothing more than big brother moneymakers for cities. 12 states now banned them.

>> the use of enforcement for revenue and particularly if it involves a for-profit company like a camera vendor, is simply wrong, and the public is waking up to that.

>> reporter: back in missouri, anna darr says she'll be slowing down.

>> i do not want to pay another $110 fine.

>> reporter: neither do i. tom costello, nbc news, washington .