Cameras slow speeders on Second Avenue
March 17, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
Smile, speeders: Authorities are using cameras to keep watch in the bustling Second Avenue school zone. Motorists caught during the next four weeks will escape with a warning. But the Issaquah Police Department will begin mailing fines to speeders next month.
Police activated the system March 16. Starting April 13, speeders will receive $124 fines for exceeding the 20 mph limit.Police Chief Paul Ayers hopes the cameras will improve safety for drivers and pedestrians in an area packed with students. Four campuses — Clark Elementary School, Issaquah High School, Issaquah Middle School and Tiger Mountain Community High School — are located near the cameras. The system was installed across from Clark Elementary near the intersection of Second Avenue and Evans Street.
Roadway sensors alert the cameras to speeding vehicles. The system consists of two cameras — one to record video of the violation and another to snap a photo of the speeding vehicle’s rear license plate. Workers also installed signs to notify motorists about the cameras.
Patrol Commander Scott Behrbaum said speeders are a problem in school zones.
“Each year we write hundreds of tickets for school zone speed violations,” he said.
The devices will record violators on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. when heavy school traffic traverses the road. The cameras will not be used on weekends or during school breaks and holidays.
“Our main priority is the safety of students going to and from school,” Behrbaum said.
Drivers caught speeding will receive two photos — a shot of their vehicle during the infraction and a picture of the license plate. The mailing will also note the time, date, speed limit and the recorded speed of the vehicle.
The infraction is a non-criminal offense that — like a parking ticket — will not be included in the driver’s record. Violators may pay the fine, request a hearing or submit a “declaration of non-responsibility.” If the owner was not driving the vehicle at the time of the incident, the declaration leaves the driver on the hook for the violation.
When the City Council approved the cameras last July, members restricted use of the devices to school zones and major intersections. A camera to monitor red-light runners at SR 900 and Newport Way will be installed as the widening of the state highway progresses. Officials said there are no plans to install traffic cameras elsewhere.
Ayers said safety outweighs privacy concerns related to the use of cameras for law enforcement.
“It’s not Big Brother. It’s not the privacy of your home,” he said. “Whether you agree or disagree with the cameras, they’re there for a purpose.”
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.