A concern from a Renton high Student about the photo-enforcement system next to the school….
Posts tagged red-light cameras
We had a civil, somewhat passionate, forum about the pros and cons of I-985 at our Council Meeting on Monday night.
This initiative has the worthy goal of trying to reduce traffic congestion, something we are all in favor of; but the initiative seeks to do it in some questionable ways (such as opening HOV lanes up to all traffic 18 hours per day, and sending local traffic photo enforcement fines–currently used to reduce speeding in neighborhoods– to a new traffic congestion fund in Olympia)
After hearing the pros and cons, and taking comments from citizens, council went on record opposing this initiative.
The city published a press release today with more information on this topic:
Do you agree or disagree with our recommendation… How do you plan to vote?
Here is the press release:
Here is a memo we recently received from our police department concerning the traffic photo-enforcement program (red-light cameras and school-zone speed cameras).
This has some very interesting statistics and information about the program.
Incidentally, I never mentioned in my blog that the Mayor and city staff did an excellent job enhancing the signage at McKnight Middle School, so that now all drivers (whether approaching from Edmonds or 16th street) have a chance to pass one or more flashing “kids in school” lights before passing the speed camera. (I had shared some of my suggestions here .)The additional signs and flashing lights reduce confusion about what constitutes speeding in the school zone. Thanks to staff for this great work.
From: Pete Lewis [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, August 29, 2008 1:45 PM
To: Tim Eyman
Subject: RE: Eyman to red light camera cities: a formal request for information
The city of Auburn along with Lakewood was the original supporters of this life saving measure. We went to the state legislature with a particular focus in mind. We wanted to stop deaths and serious injuries caused by people running red lights. In addition we were concerned with the increasing speeds seen around our schools and our children’s safety. READ MORE »
Tim Eyman just sent our mayor and council members a question via email. In his email he explains that his latest initiative I-985 will, in-part, redirect any excess revenues from red-light cameras out of local cities accounts and into a state-wide “anti-congestion” fund, and then he asks “what is your city’s plan should voters approve I-985?”
I can’t speak for the rest of the council members or the mayor on this, and we do not meet again for two more weeks, but I know that this initiative would not change my position on red-light cameras. These cameras were not installed to raise money. They were installed to promote safety. While the speed cameras still have signage issues we are working to resolve, and both speed and red-light cameras may always seem Orwellian to some people (even though they do not capture the drivers identities), it’s not the money that led to the decision to install these cameras in Renton. It’s safety.
Currently, any revenues from the red-light and speed cameras in Renton are directed to Renton Police overtime to reduce speeding in neighborhoods.
So, Tim Eyman’s question is really one more for the voters. Do you want Renton traffic fines that are currently dedicated to traffic safety in Renton neighborhoods to instead be sent to Olympia and targeted for state-wide traffic congestion.
If so, I don’t have a problem with that. But Just like Tim Eyman, I don’t have a lot of faith in Olympia lately. Additionally, I think statewide congestion relief should be paid for with state-wide funds, not with funds coming disproportionately from Renton drivers. So I will personally cast my vote to keep any Red-light funds here in Renton for neighborhood safety.
There are some installation issues still impacting the speed cameras at McKnight Middle School. I’m hoping we can get these addressed before we start issuing tickets–I think so far we are still issuing warnings to drivers that exceed the 20 miles per hour limit.
I have personally seen drivers turning onto Edmonds from NE 16th, and getting their car’s picture taken by the speed camera, even when there are no children in sight AND they never passed a flashing warning light. I do not think these warnings/tickets are fair, or that the tickets will hold up in court unless we get the company that installed the cameras back to finish the job on the signage.
We have already received at least one written complaint about this situation.
The problem is while the Edmond approaches clearly link the reduced speed to the flashing lights, and make it a clear violation if a driver exceeds 20 miles per hour when the lights are flashing, the drivers approaching from 16th get no such warning and pass no flashing lights. Hence, they must go with the signage, which links the speed zone to the words “when children are present”.
The Washington Administrative Code clearly spells out what the words “when children are present” really mean:
When children are present.
Amend MUTCD Section 7B.11 by adding the following supplemental paragraph to the second Standard:
The supplemental or lower panel of a School Speed Limit 20 sign which reads When Children are Present shall indicate to the motorist that the 20 mile per hour school speed limit is in force under any of the following conditions:
(1) School children are occupying or walking within the marked crosswalk.
(2) School children are waiting at the curb or on the shoulder of the roadway and are about to cross the roadway by way of the marked crosswalk.
(3) School children are present or walking along the roadway, either on the adjacent sidewalk or, in the absence of sidewalks, on the shoulder within the posted school speed limit zone extending 300 feet, or other distance established by regulation, in either direction from the marked crosswalk.
[Statutory Authority: Chapter 34.05 RCW and RCW 47.36.030. 03-06-053, § 468-95-350, filed 2/28/03, effective 3/31/03.]
Safe and legal drivers will abide a 30 mile per hour speed limit on Edmonds Ave NE, and then the reduced 20 MPH speed in the school zone. In this picture you can see the first indication of a school crossing in the bright yellow sign to the upper left.
This sign, for motorists heading Southbound on Edmonds Ave is pretty clear. Slow down when the lights flash, or when children are present, or you deserve the ticket you will get. No problem here.
But many people enter Edmonds Ave from NE 16th street. Here drivers from the East and West are entering Edmonds in the school zone, where they will pass the speed cameras, and none of them have passed any lights, flashing or not. They will never get a chance to see a flashing light from this approach, as the only flashing lights are on Edmonds Ave, 300 feet before the intersection with NE 16th.
Additionally, they will also not pass any signs that say that speed is photo-enforced, which looks to be out of compliance with state law which reads “All locations where a photo enforcement system is used must be clearly marked by placing signs in locations that clearly indicate to a driver that he or she is entering a zone where traffic laws are enforced by a photo enforcement system.” See the signage that they will see below.
Here is what drivers headed East on 16th will see before they enter the school zone. The sign warns them that the zone is in force when the lights flash or when children are present, but they will never pass a flashing light (even during peak school hours.) So they have to rely on the provision to watch for children being “present.”
Here is the westbound approach on NE 16th. It very clearly links the speed zone to “when children are present” but not to flashing lights at all. Even though the school may be holding summer classes, there may be no kids outdoors on the closed campus. Hapless drivers who approach the school this way on a summer day, with no children anywhere to be seen, and then turn left can get tagged for speeding in disregard of a flashing light they would have never seen.
We, the city of Renton, contracted with a private firm to install the cameras and signage, and to process the warnings and tickets. I feel this firm has a bit more work to do before we give anyone a ticket.
Read the story HERE
The speed cameras are going in near three schools this week.
Here is a shot of the camera being installed on Edmonds Ave NE, next to McKnight Middle school. We are also installing red-light cameras at three intersections.
The Renton Reporter published a story in today’s edition. Click HERE for the story.
When the cameras get activated, please be prepared for other drivers to act a little erratically. for a while. These cameras are great at eliminating T-Bone car crashes, and preventing kids from getting hit in school zones, but they can actually increase the number of rear-end fender-benders due to people driving unpredictably (hitting the break abruptly when they first thought they would run the light, or slowing down fast). So be careful until the speed-demons out there learn some new habits.
The City Council has approved a police department suggestion to install three red-light-running cameras, and three school zone speeding cameras in our city. These are cameras which take a picture of the license plate of a vehicle which is either failing to stop for a red light, or failing to abide by the school speed zone. The owner of the car is then mailed a non-moving infraction with a high fine…sort of like a $124 parking ticket. The camera system can not issue a moving violation in our state, because it is not allowed to take a picture of the driver’s face, and therefore can not be assigned to an individual….only to the owner of the vehicle.
The photos are checked by a representative from law enforcement (either a police employee or a contractor) before violations are mailed out, to verify that there was not a problem with the camera or a legitimate issue that caused the red light violation (such as a motorist getting out of the way of an emergency vehicle, or stuck behind an accident, or something like that)
The school speed zone cameras are tentatively scheduled to be placed in front of McKnight Middle School, Renton High School, and Benson Hill Elementary. They will be active during the hours that children are present in the schools, and there will be signs and flashing lights warning motorists that there is camera speed enforcement. It is expected that they will simply be set a nominal amount above the speed limit (just a few miles over…not a lot above), and that a ticket will be mailed to the owners of any cars that exceed this margin in the camera-enforced area.
The locations for the red light enforcement cameras have not been decided on yet, but they will be placed at the intersections that show the most violations. Maple Valley Highway and Sunset is a finalist for instance, as is Rainier and Grady. These will ticket any vehicle that has not entered the intersection the moment that the light has turned red. Note that while it is best to clear the intersection completely on the yellow light, the camera will ticket only those who enter the intersection on the red light. These violations usually occur when drivers are in a long queue waiting to get through the light, and they don’t stop entering even when the light turns red. The other way these violations happen, which is even more dangerous, is when a driver sees a green or yellow light a distance ahead, and steps on the accelerator to get through the light. Both of these situations will lead to a ticket in the $124 range.
The goal of the Renton Council and the Police is not to earn money, but rather to save lives by reversing increasingly dangerous driving habit; habits that are predictably getting worse as a result of frustration with all the traffic and congestion.
I know there are some members of the public who really favor this, and some who are opposed on orwellian (big brother is watching you) grounds. For me, the issue came down to statistics which say we will save lives. These lives might be yours and mine, or the lives of our dear loved ones. For this reason, I and the entire Renton council voted to take this step.
Cameras will enforce red lights and speeding
The Renton Police department is proposing red light cameras, similar to the ones installed last year in the City of Auburn, to catch people running red lights. The typical red-light camera takes a photo of the driver’s face and the automobile license plate, and a $100 ticket (approximately) is mailed to the driver. The ticket must be paid, but it is not recorded on the drivers record as a moving violation (since there was no interaction with a police officer). The cameras have been shown to save lives, so they are generally supported by lawmakers, although they sometimes leave drivers feeling angry.
Renton is also considering speed cameras in school zones. It’s a similar concept, but obviously reacts to speeding instead of red-light running. The speed camera has to be identified with a sign in order to be legal under state law. if the council approves this, one of the locations would be on Edmonds Avenue Northeast, in front of McKnight Middle School. Another location would be SE Second St, in front of Renton High.
How do you Rentonites feel about these high-tech solutions? Are they brilliant new safety measures, or are they the watchful glare of big-brother interfering with your freedom… or perhaps you don’t see much of a difference. I would enjoy hearing your comment!
Comments recieved on this blog on RentonWA myspace site:
Where does it all stop? Before you know it, they’ll have cameras in the restroom making sure you remember to flush behind yourself. If not, you’ll receive $101 ticket in the mail along with a picture of your face and copies of your fingerprints off the door handle. How do we know they aren’t watching those cameras 24/7 in real time, and not just in a still photo as they say. What does it cost to purchase an industrial duty vandal proof system like this? I have a child, and I do agree that people drive at reckless speeds through our school zones and intersections. And I believe that this may help the problem, but I disagree with the “threat” of cameras everywhere just so people will discipline themselves. I think the real time radar speed limit signs and occasional police presence will help curb some of this activity.
Posted by Mikel On Monday, April 16, 2007 at 9:41 PM
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Posted by Hoover On Tuesday, April 17, 2007 at 1:08 AM
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I’m in favor of it. you get a ticket, but your insurance doesn’t go up. plus has ANYONE had the experience of wnting to go through YOUR green light and 5 (yes 5!) cars are STILL turning left! and what got me was person #5 was looking at me like I was the idiot for honking at him!
Posted by karin On Tuesday, April 17, 2007 at 1:06 PM
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Totally in favor. I hate those people who try to fly though when the light is somewhere between yellow and red (orange maybe?) and those endless people trying to squeek in on those turning arrows. I’ve never had a problem with following most traffic laws (though I have been known to speed upto 5 mph over the posted speed limit occassionally )
Posted by Derek On Tuesday, April 17, 2007 at 11:23 PM
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As a life long pedestrian I think there should be a LOT more of these cameras out there!!!
The person who said she waited as FIVE CARS turned left at a light….well my dear, imagine a pedestrian TRYING to cross the street when the same amount of cars goes thru the light! On more then one occasion I’ve actully mades comments VERY loudly, and on those occasions when I was heard I was shown the middle finger for my efforts. Oh and there was that one time that I was in the MIDDLE of the intersection and a car went flying by me after flying down the hill and blowing thru the light with no obvious concern for anyone or anything in his path. By the way, this is the same intersection area where the mother of King 5′s Elisa Hahn was hit by TWO hit and run drivers.
Unforunately red light running has become just as regular an offense as people running stop signs and failing to yeild to us pesky pedestrians!!!
So yep… I’m all for it. Although I think the ticket needs to be a LOT more expensive, cuz to the folks with really expensive cars, 100 bucks is like spare change. Habitual offenders should be sentenced to a week or two of taking the bus and trying to get accross the street and then MAYBE they’ll learn to follow the law!!!
Just my dollars worth
Posted by lilkaraokediva On Saturday, April 21, 2007 at 8:29 PM
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