Capital Beltway Photo-radar Demonstration Project: Site Visit Report

Report No: 93-R22

Published in 1992

About the report:

Speeding on the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495 around Washington, D.C.) has long posed a traffic safety and incident management problem for local officials. As the Beltway expanded from 4 lanes to as many as 8 lanes, shoulder and median areas providing places for police officers to "pull over" speeding drivers were drastically reduced. As traffic volume on the facility increased, the ability of officers to safely stop single vehicles for speeding decreased. By 1989, both the Virginia Department of State Police and its Maryland counterpart abandoned traditional speed enforcement on the Beltway and began looking for innovative ways to enforce the speed laws.

Photo-radar, in use in Europe for over 30 years, was an obvious technology for study. Photo-radar equipment combines a camera and radar with electronic controls to detect and photograph speeding vehicles. There were two locations in the United States where photo-radar was used for speed enforcement Pasadena, California and Paradise Valley, Arizona. Interviews concentrated on the users' experiences and their methods of deploying photo-radar, although the manufacturers' representatives were present. The interviews sought to discover how photo-radar applications in Pasadena and Paradise Valley could be applied to other American cities, and what had been learned about photo-radar program development, court liaison, and constitutionality.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

Cheryl W. Lynn

Last updated: December 24, 2023

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