Red Light Cams Go Live Sun.;To Bring In $200k In 1st Year?

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The photos above were taken Thursday afternoon at the intersection of First Avenue South and SW 160th, the home of one of three new Red Light Cameras installed by the City of Burien that will go live on Sunday, March 1st.

The intersections are:

  • 1st Avenue South at SW 148th Street
  • 1st Avenue South at SW 152nd Street
  • 1st Avenue South at SW 160th Street

The cameras will operate 24 hours a day and capture still photos and video of every vehicle that runs a red light at the intersection.

After a 30-day warning period, the registered owner of a vehicle that runs a red light will receive a notice of infraction in the mail, which carries a $101 penalty.

According to the city:

The primary goal of the traffic safety cameras is to reduce red light violations. The Photo Enforcement Program has been very successful in communities throughout Washington and the rest of the United States in changing the driving behavior of motorists. It has been shown that the cameras make drivers slow down and stop for red lights, preventing collisions. The cameras also contribute to the safety of pedestrians.

We sent the city several questions about these new “Gotcha Cams” and here’s what we got back from Public Information Officer Steve Botkin:

Q: Was the goal of installing the cameras to generate more revenue?
A: The goal was improving public safety by reducing accidents at those locations.

Q: How much revenue does the city expect to generate from these cameras?
A: As for expected revenue, the City budgeted $200,000 in 2009 and $250,000 in 2010; these estimates were based on what the revenue generated in other cities by similar red light enforcement programs. The City anticipates that in 2011 the revenues will start to decrease.  This trend is consistent with other jurisdictions.

Q: Is there a plan to install additional red light cameras in the future? If so, where and why?
A: No plans to install more at this time.

Q: Were the three intersections chosen because there was an abundance of red light running?
A: They were chosen based on accident report data and being some of our busiest intersections.

Q: Will the camera enforcement be strictly for red light running, or will it also apply to “rolling right turn” violations (not stopping fully on a red light right turn)?
A: The camera will catch those who do not slow down and blatantly do a rolling right turn on a red light.

Q: Will the city be changing the duration of the yellow light times on any of these 3 stoplights?
A: The duration of the yellow light times is set by national standards and will comply with those.

Q: Does RedFlex (the cam mfg.) get a cut of each ticket fine? If so, how much?
A: The City pays Redflex a flat monthly amount. The fixed fee ranges from $4,870 to $6,870 per month depending on the number of violations.

Q: Iis there any clause in the contract with them that prohibits any engineering changes being made to the intersections where the cameras are placed?
A: The contract does not prohibit engineering changes being made to the intersections.

There’s some controversy about red light cameras out there (ie: do they help stop accidents or are they just revenue generators?), but we’d like to know what YOU think – please leave your Comment below…


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5 Responses to “Red Light Cams Go Live Sun.;To Bring In $200k In 1st Year?”
  1. If these are supposed to improve safety, I wonder if they did any research outside of what the vendor told them? Most good independent research shows that these cameras INCREASE accdident! Just read

    And doesn't it concern anyone that they created a contract that increases payout based on number of citations? Does it concern anyone that this company (Redflex) has been found guilty of falsifying court documents, among other things?

  2. Burienite says:

    "The City pays Redflex a flat monthly amount. The fixed fee ranges from $4,870 to $6,870 per month depending on the number of violations."

    … what definition of "flat monthly amount" and "fixed fee" are they using, exactly?

  3. Henry says:

    How to make sure the cameras don't end up being just about money:

    Make the fine for rolling right turns, or left turns, much lower than for a straight thru violation. $20 is enuf to drive home the point about these relatively much-less-dangerous turning offenses. If, instead, the fine for turning is the same (substantial) amount as for a straight thru violation, then it's about money.

    Have a grace period, that is, no ticket unless you're more than 1/2 sec. late. If no grace, it's about money.

    Set the yellow lights for left turns at 4.0 sec. If they're left at 3.0, like in California, that triples the # of violations & it's about money.

    The contract with the vendor running the cameras must be changed to a genuine flat-rate. If the vendor is paid so-much-a-ticket, or a % of the fine revenue, or more money is there's more tickets (as in the present contract), it's about money.

    Set a solid cap on the max. fine, including all surcharges. Otherwise, as soon as the govt. needs more money, it will rise to $400+, like in California, & it's about money.

    It may be too late to change the contract. It's been signed. Although there may be an escape clause the city can use. But it is not too late to reduce the amount of the fines for turns, or institute a grace period, or lengthen the yellow on lefts.

  4. these cameras tape 24/7 every car that passes, and can pull up exactly where you were and when by simply putting your plate # into their computer. Why?
    Yes they will move the yellow time down to the lowest allowed by law. The speed cameras will come a short distance after the speed sign to decrease, not even giving you time to slow down,The company has already proved they will forge documents to get the results they want.
    Kiss you freedoms to privacy good bye folks they will have so many cameras you can't count them.
    From Arizona, invaded by and taken over bye redflex, triple A declares the state of Arizona a speed trap because of redflex.
    Come to sunny Arizona, I can assure you that it will cost you a whole lot more than you planned while driving here.


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