November 29

Yikes! School-zone speed cameras could rake in $2-4 million a year?



They won’t issue you a real speeding ticket. Yet.

Although the warning-only grace  period for the new school-zone speed cameras, including the one at Olympic View Elementary School, 504 N.E. 95th St., was to expire this Monday, the cameras appear to have some glitches – they have “caught” almost 6,000 speeders in less than a month, according to our news partners The Seattle Times.

“We were surprised,” Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn told the Times.  At this past month’s rate, the fines could total $2-4 million annually, the mayor said.

Because there were so many speeders, the warning-citation period that was to end this week has been extended to Monday, Dec. 10, he said. From that day on, the registered owners of vehicles caught driving faster than 20 mph in those school zones while beacons are flashing will receive a $189 ticket in the mail.

The experimental cameras are set up at the flashing-light zones outside city schools as part of a pilot program, to see if speeding falls off. There are four cameras, including the one outside Olympic View on Fifth Avenue Northeast between approximately 94th and 96th streets.

That camera definitely had setup problems: In an earlier post on it Kristin commented:

Actually living next to one of these cameras is pure hell…it went on last night and it was like living in a photographer’s studio all night – flashes constantly. It made it impossible to watch television or even to sleep. I call DOT this morning to complain as they are being set off by almost every car going by – even outside of school hours.

That’s since been fixed. From the Times:

Seattle police say the cameras are recording all day, but drivers will be ticketed for speeding only when the school-zone beacons are flashing — times when children are most likely to be walking to and from school. Like red-light cameras at some intersections, the camera shoots a picture of the license plate.

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Sara W

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  1. @another Eric. An elderly woman was hit recently crossing at the crosswalk.

    This is a dangerous school zone. Don’t like it then don’t speed.


  2. 6,000 * $189 = $1,134,000. The pencils out to $13 million a year.

    It isn’t a money grab, it is for the kids. Right.

    Why doesn’t the City quit blowing money so it doesn’t have to rip off its citizens?

    America, one nation, under surveillance.



  3. If they’d take the money and spend it on adding sidewalks to our neighborhood’s blocks that don’t have it, I’d be much more supportive.

    Interestingly, citizens are fighting back against the cameras in a number of cities, getting them to pull them. NYC has a pending large lawsuit just filed over it’s red light cameras. It bums me out at the intersection of 80th and 5th instead of fixing the traffic flow problems with left turn lanes, they opted for red light cameras instead. If someone is turning cars can back up 20 deep and I see a lot of people having the camera flash as a car tries to get through once the car in front of them finally turns. It seems like a good money maker for the city, but it did nothing to solve the traffic flow problems.


  4. How many kids have been hit, injured or killed by any vehicles, speeding or not in any school zone in Seattle? Seriously, I want to know.


  5. These are definitely ugly as sin; however, I hope at least SOME people pay more attention. I’m tired of slowing down to the school zone speed limit (while there are kids out even) through here and some jerk riding my bumper through the school zone.


  6. Good point Tim. It seems there is no good answer… too bad there can’t be timed retractable speed bumps 🙂 I hate the cameras and flashing though and feel really bad for Mary and her neighbors for having to deal with that. I’d be livid with the city if they put those up in front of my house, it seems like they forgot to include the homeowners and neighbors that would be most effected in the discussion of options. Are there any steps we can take to try to get them removed?


  7. Whenever I’m driving and turn off 5th Avenue onto the side street there’s always horrible radio interference near the camera.
    I was wondering if the camera equipment is causing this or is it something else nearby?


  8. Awful. They could have easily thrown in a few more prominent flashing SCHOOL SLOW ZONE signs w/warnings up… that would have taken care of most of the problem. Also what is the speed over that counts? Basically every single driver out there is used to being allow a few miles over the limit everywhere. If they wanted say 20mph limit, they need to be putting up signs for 15mph… right?


  9. I also agree with Dan – “esthetically these are horrible for our neighborhood.” The DOT installed the huge camera and pole right in front of my neighbors house and right next to the walkway to their porch. I would have thought they could have given a little more consideration to the residents of the neighborhood.


  10. I live right across the street from one of these cameras and they flash constantly right into my house. I completely agree with Kristen and her earlier post.


  11. On on hand, I’m glad this is working. On the other, it’s too bad the city had to spend a few hundred thousand to install this to find this out when all they really needed to do was listen to the neighborhood.


  12. I guess the obvious question is why are cameras recording ALL DAY? That really does feel like big brother. Surely the cameras could be set to only record when the lights are active.


  13. They’ve fixed the problems, trust them… right. Aesthetically these are horrible for our neighborhood. I don’t understand why they didn’t just install much cheaper and less big brother-like speed bumps. All these cameras, extra signs, and camera flashes seem like overkill just to get people to slow down a little.

    I still feel like most of the people that speed through that area don’t live in our neighborhood, realize a school is there, nor will they read the signs. Where speedbumps they would see and feel and would actually change driving patterns.


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