City to run traffic safety camera pilot program, starting in January

The Redmond City Council unanimously gave the green light to the city's new Traffic Safety Camera Pilot Program at its Sept. 7 meeting.

The Redmond City Council unanimously gave the green light to the city’s new Traffic Safety Camera Pilot Program at its Sept. 7 meeting.

The program will run for one year beginning with a 30-day warning period in January 2011. During 2011, the city will evaluate its effectiveness and determine whether or not the program will continue.

This program will install traffic safety cameras at three intersections and in one school zone within Redmond, as follows:

• Eastbound at 148th Avenue Northeast and Redmond Way

• Eastbound and westbound at 156th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 40th Street

• Westbound and northbound at Union Hill Road and Avondale Road

• Eastbound and westbound in front of Einstein Elementary School, 18025 NE 116th St.

All camera locations will be clearly signed to indicate the use of a traffic safety camera. Earlier this year, the city performed a study at several intersections and school zones and identified those in the pilot program as needing additional enforcement.

A study showed that the three selected intersections averaged more than 600 vehicles running a red light per month.

In the safety zone near Einstein Elementary, speeding violations of at least 26 mph in a 20 mph school zone averaged almost 1,000 per month. Blinking lights in that area indicate when the school zone speed limit is in effect, but many drivers don’t slow down.

Redmond City Council president Richard Cole commented, “We all believe that this program will make people pay more attention when driving, especially because we will clearly mark the areas with cameras, areas where there are safety issues. Our purpose is not to issue more infractions, but to have drivers stop when the light turns red and drive slower in school zones.”

In response to drivers who might complain that using traffic cameras infringes upon their privacy, Cole stated, “The purpose is to reduce accidents and save lives. There are safeguards to prevent privacy violations. The cameras will only take pictures of the license plate and are prohibited from taking pictures of the drivers.”

Cole continued, “The cameras will only take pictures of cars that enter the intersection after the light turns red or a car violating the school area speed limits in place when children are present. The pictures are reviewed by the vendor and a police officer before the ticket is issued. You can always utilize the court system to appeal the infraction.”

The traffic safety camera pilot program begins in January 2011 with warnings being issued until February. After that, the fee for each violation is $124.

Cole noted, “On the issue of setting the amount of the fine, the vote was 5-2 for setting the fine at $124.” Cole and Councilmember Hank Myers voted against the amount. Cole pointed out that $124 is the amount of a current fine for running a red light or speeding in a school zone.

“There shouldn’t be a difference in the fine depending on who gave you a ticket. The amount is also consistent with most other jurisdictions,” Cole said. “There is a movement in the state legislature to lower the amount for camera infractions. Mr. Myers and I believed that a lower fine should be applied and the legislature will make that change.”

Because the violation is a civil infraction, it is not reported to insurance companies or the Washington State Department of Motor Vehicles.

Redmond Police Commander Shari Shovlin explained, “The revenue generated by fees will be used to support the program itself. Should the revenue collected exceed the cost of the program, the money will be used only for public safety related programs or services.”

The city will conduct extensive outreach to notify the community about implementation of the traffic safety camera pilot program. The city has developed an informational brochure including an insert with frequently-asked questions. Information will also be available on the city’s Web site, beginning next week at www.redmond.gov/safetycameras.

“The City of Redmond is committed to the safety of the community and these violations are a clear threat to the public,” stated Redmond Police Chief Ron Gibson. “The goal of this safety camera program is to change dangerous driver behavior, reduce preventable collisions at signalized intersections and prevent car-pedestrian collisions in school zones.”

A national study indicates over 65 percent of all vehicles travel at least 10 mph over the posted school zone speed. While a pedestrian has an almost 90 percent survival rate at 20 mph, if hit at 30 mph, a pedestrian has less than a 30 percent chance of surviving.

For additional information about the traffic safety cameras, contact Commander Shari Shovlin at sshovlin@redmond.gov or (425) 556-2564.

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