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Seattle Adds More School Zone Cameras to Catch Speeding Drivers

Updated on: 2/17/2020

A news report published in The Seattle Times on Monday announced that city officials will be activating speed-enforcement cameras near five schools in the Seattle area as the school year starts up this week.

According to the report, speeding motorists who commit an infraction – traveling over the posted 20 mph limit during certain hours in the morning and afternoon – within the first month of the cameras being activated will receive a warning in the mail. After the first month, however, speeders will receive a $189 ticket in the mail.

It’s part of a comprehensive plan launched by the city aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities by the year 2030, and has now provided speed-enforcement cameras to nine schools in the Seattle area. The locations of the five newest cameras are as follows:

  • Two cameras located on Southwest Roxbury Street, one in front of Roxhill Elementary School and the other in front of Holy Family Parish. These two schools have different start- and end-times, so the 20 mph speed limit will be enforced between 7:25 and 9:40 a.m. and again from 2:45 to 4:30 p.m. each school day.
  • A third camera will be installed in front of Dearborn Park Elementary School, located in Beacon Hill, where Principal Angela Bogan has been advocating for an increased focus on safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • The city added a fourth camera to Northeast 75th Street in front of Eckstein Middle School near Wedgwood, the site of the fatal crash caused by a drunk driver that killed two grandparents and seriously injured a woman and her infant child last March.
  • The fifth camera will be located at East Yesler Way, near Boren Avenue and 12th Avenue, to improve safety around Bailey Gatzert Elementary School. The area is regularly crowded with commuter traffic and school officials have been concerned about speeding drivers there for some time.

Map of cameras recently activated near Seattle schools

Opponents Critical of City's Financial Motives

The biggest source of objection among Seattle residents is that the city is implementing and using these cameras as a cash grab, rather than aiming to improve safety and preventing collisions in school zones. These critics have a fair point, as The Seattle Times pointed out in the report:

Last year, 47,621 camera-generated citations were issued to motorists outside the first four schools, generating $7.1 million net revenue.

But when you consider what the money raised is earmarked for, it’s hard to argue against the potential for improving safety for everyone in these highly-congested areas. According to The Times, “City Council policy is to reinvest the money into more speed cameras, crosswalks, sidewalks, signals and traffic-safety education.”

City Council member Nick Licata – who is an advocate of the cameras in school zones – says the city issued about 300 citations for every school day in 2012, when the first four cameras were introduced. In the 2013 school year, that number dropped to approximately 200 daily.

The city plans to implement additional safety measures in the future in hopes of improving safety near school zones, which include reducing the number of lanes on Roxbury next summer. It’s presumed that the money raised by the speed-enforcement cameras will help fund these types of projects.

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