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Traffic safety cameras in school zones will help keep kids safe
SEATTLE - The City of Seattle is implementing a program to help curb dangerous speeding in school zones, reduce collisions and enhance the safety of children and pedestrians.
In addition to increasing safety by reducing speeding, this pilot program will also utilize ticket revenue for additional safety improvements near schools such as sidewalks, curb bulbs, and other traffic safety tools. The number of speeding motorists in these school zones has been higher than anticipated and the City is extending the warning period by two weeks before issuing actual citations. To date, there have been 5,927 warning notices issued by Seattle Police Officers. If this current level of speeding continues in these school zones, the City could see between $2-4 million in revenue annually. The City is exploring options to invest this revenue back into these school zones for additional safety improvements. The City would prefer that motorists comply with the posted speed limit in school zones.
The Mayor's Office is working to support public safety across many departments. As part of the Safe Communities Initiative, many neighborhood residents have pointed out that children should be better protected in and around schools. The mayor is increasing the size of the police force, pushing to expand services for at-risk youth and supporting community centers that work with at-risk youth service providers. Traffic safety cameras in school zones are a part of this broader effort to support youth safety in Seattle.
The installation of the traffic safety cameras is one step in implementing the Road Safety Action Plan, released in August of this year. The plan has six goals that will lead Seattle toward a long-term vision of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries and is the result of the Road Safety Summit convened by Mayor McGinn in 2011. "Fewer people speeding" is the first goal.
"Safety is our top priority, especially in school zones," said McGinn. "This project will not only reduce speeding, but we're also able to make our neighborhood streets safer than they were before."
"This is about safety for kids and their parents in school zones. Motorists need to slow down and obey the posted speed limits. This technology will encourage safer driving habits and prevent collisions," said Chief John Diaz of the Seattle Police Department.
Beginning on November 1st, school zone speed cameras went "live" in four selected school zones around the city: Broadview-Thompson K-8 School, Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, Olympic View Elementary School and Gatewood Elementary School. These schools were chosen because analysis of documented speeding problems showed that these schools would receive the greatest speed reduction and safety benefit from automated speed enforcement. Speeding continued to be a concern despite the existence of flashing beacons previously installed by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).
Beginning on December 10th, actual citations will be mailed to motorists who disregard the speed limit in the monitored school zones. The fine amount will be a fixed $189.00, the same cost as a ticket that would otherwise be issued by an officer.
The cameras will only issue tickets when the school zone yellow beacons are flashing, which typically occurs for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon when children are coming or going to school.
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