SEATTLE – Following their recent designation of illegal drag racing zones, the Seattle City Council passed two additional pillars of the traffic camera enforcement strategy, as sponsored by Councilmember Alex Pedersen for safer streets. The suite of new legislation will create safer streets throughout the city by authorizing the addition of automated traffic cameras in hospital zones and public park zones and by ensuring new funds raised from those cameras in the new zones are reinvested into safety measures for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles. To address feedback received from the public, first-time violations in the new zones will be issued a warning, which will be important to lower income drivers.
“As part of our comprehensive strategy to increase traffic safety, we know automated cameras are an effective tool because they reduce reckless driving, reduce collisions, and reduce direct interactions between drivers and police,” said Councilmember Pedersen who chairs the Transportation Committee. “We will use the net revenue from the new cameras to build more sidewalks and crosswalks, while also calming traffic on dangerous arterials. Many of those projects will take years to design and construct at a large scale across our city, so this needs to be a “Yes AND” effort to increase safety. If we’re serious about reducing the harm of traffic injuries and deaths today, we need to use the tools available to us today and that means installing this technology along dangerous roadways and intersections, especially where our most vulnerable residents are simply trying to cross the street.”
Permitting Warnings for First Infractions – Council Bill 120625
Passed by the Seattle City Council today, Council Bill 120625 not only incorporates into our municipal code the 2022 camera enforcement provisions from Washington State law, but also provides a warning for a first infraction. Studies show the tickets from automated camera enforcement change behavior. Issuing a warning for the first infraction will encourage a positive change in driving behavior while providing an initial reprieve for low-income drivers. For SDOT’s presentation from the August 15, 2023 Transportation Committee, CLICK HERE.
Reinvesting Local Revenues for Traffic Safety – Council Bill 120638
Passed by the Seattle City Council today, Council Bill 120638 directs the City government’s portion of the future net revenue from speed zone cameras to “Vision Zero” safety efforts including infrastructure benefiting pedestrians, cyclists, and traffic-calming. As required by the 2022 State law, half of all new revenue from this additional automated enforcement camera authority is set aside for the state’s “Cooper Jones” bicycle safety awareness program. Without Councilmember Pedersen’s bill, the other half of the revenue would have blended into the City of Seattle’s General Fund. With the passage of Council Bill 120638, the net revenue will be reinvested in the community to increase traffic safety. For City Council Central Staff’s presentation at the August 15, 2023 Transportation Committee, ￼HYPERLINK “https://seattle.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=12220959&GUID=744AD26C-6581-43EC-80E8-F331E86162A1” CLICK HERE
Designating Speed Zones – Council Bill 120600
On July 25th, Council Bill 120600 sponsored by Councilmembers Herbold and Pedersen passed the City Council. This ordinance authorizes automated traffic enforcement cameras to deter and reduce dangerous drag racing. For a link to the press release on the passage of CB 120600 / Ordinance 126869 from July 25, 2023, CLICK HERE.
Here’s a comparison of CB 120600 (speed zone designation) and CB 120625 (the rest of the State authority):
Doubling the School Zone Camera Program
Via Council Bill 120618, the City’s midyear supplemental budget ordinance, Councilmember Pedersen sponsored an amendment to transfer $500,000 to the Seattle Department of Transportation to expedite the doubling of school zone cameras as contemplated in the 2023 Adopted Budget (SDOT-103-B-001-2023). To prepare for additional school zone camera installations, SDOT is evaluating potential camera locations, designing the installations, and conducting other up-front work. This transfer would fund work in 2023 to support the goal of installing cameras in time for the 2024-2025 school year. The net revenue from school zone traffic safety cameras is already designated to safety infrastructure improvements near schools.
The fees are set by State law and are presented here in one place for easy reference:
|Municipal Code reference||Parking infraction and other violations short description||Base penalty amount|
|* * *|
|11.50.140||RED LIGHT CAMERA VIOLATION||$139|
|11.52.040||SPEEDING TRAFFIC CAMERA VIOLATION||$139|
|11.50.150||RED ARROW CAMERA VIOLATIONS||$139|
|11.52.100||SPEED, SCHOOL CROSSWALKS CAMERA VIOLATION||$237|
|11.50.070||TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICE OBSTRUCTING TRAFFIC AT SIGNAL CAMERA VIOLATION||$75|
|11.53.190||DRIVING IN BIKE LANE CAMERA VIOLATION||$75|
|11.53.230||HIGH OCUPANCY VEHICLE LANE VIOLATION CAMERA VIOLATION||$75|
|11.72.040||BLOCK TRAFFIC-STOP/PARK OCCUPIED VEHICLE CAMERA VIOLATION||$75|
|11.72.080||CROSSWALK CAMERA VIOLATION||$75|
|11.72.210||INTERSECTION CAMERA VIOLATION||$75|
|* * *|
To see how the enforcement cameras are being distributed throughout Seattle, you can click on the following links: Block-the-Box (intersections), Illegal Drag Racing Zones, Red Light Cameras, School Zones, Transit Lanes.
Potential Forthcoming Legislation
The City Attorney’s Office, with support from the School Traffic Safety Committee and Councilmember Pedersen, is exploring the potential for the City of Seattle to help with enforcing the Seattle School District’s Bus Stop Paddle Ticketing (Betsy Gates) Program. This program has small cameras attached to the stop paddles on display when children are getting on and off their school buses and would photograph the vehicles illegally zipping past the school bus. After the City Attorney completes the necessary arrangements, Councilmember Pedersen will work to shepherd it through the City Council.
On September 26, 2023, the Mayor will transmit his proposed budget for 2024. As Chair of the Transportation Committee, Councilmember Pedersen hopes to see sufficient revenues to fund any upfront costs for the expanded automated camera enforcement program, because the program quickly pays for itself with net revenue available for safety infrastructure.