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Speed cameras nab 30,000 drivers
Police say program reducing wrecks

Charlotte Observer | August 11, 2005
By FRED KELLY

In the city's first year of speed cameras, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police wrote more than 30,000 tickets.

And there could have been more.

Police gave leeway to drivers slightly above the posted limit or whose license plates were hard to make out, said Capt. Dave Haggist.

"You probably could add 20,000 more who were speeding," he said.

The cameras are stationed inside three vans parked along 14 corridors considered the city's most dangerous. The owners of speeding vehicles are mailed a $50 citation and a photo of their car.

Here's the latest on the program after its first year:

Does the program work?

Police have commissioned three studies to determine the program's effectiveness, with the first results due later this year. They say the program has improved safety.Countywide, crashes were down 12 percent through April compared with the same period in 2004.

Critics contend the cameras fail to slow speeders.

Should you appeal?

Drivers haven't had much luck fighting the fines. Of 170 people who appealed, 10 were successful.

Many said someone else was driving, Haggist said. Those car owners must provide the actual driver's name and address so police can send them the ticket.

In other successful appeals, drivers had proof their cars had been stolen, Haggist said. And in one case, a driver was hurrying a family member to the hospital.

Where does the money go?

Authorities had collected more than $1 million in fines as of Aug. 2. Peek Traffic, a Florida-based company that administers the program, got $782,227; the city got $241,320.

So far, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has not received any money because the city spent $288,000 on advertising and $180,000 studying its effectiveness.



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