Speeders caught on camera face fines

April 13, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Drivers could be fined $124 for speeding near four schools — even if no police officers are present. Officers will begin to issue citations this week for speeders caught by traffic cameras that overlook a busy Second Avenue zone near the four schools.Issaquah Police Department Patrol Cmdr. Scott Behrbaum said the cameras proved to be an effective deterrent to speeders. He said traffic began to slow down after the cameras were activated last month.

The system was installed across from Clark Elementary School near the intersection of Second Avenue and Evans Street. For the first weeks of operation, motorists caught speeding received warnings. The school zone speed limit is 20 mph.

Officials said they hope the cameras will improve safety in areas packed with students. The cameras were installed near four campuses: Issaquah High School, Issaquah Middle School, Tiger Mountain Community High School and Clark.

“From a school perspective, anything our city is doing to help keep our schools safe is wonderful,” said Sara Niegowski, communications director for the Issaquah School District.

Niegowski said IHS administrators took steps to make staffers and students aware of the cameras. The school resource officer also spoke with IHS student drivers about the system.

“There has been a lot of advance notice,” Niegowski said.

The cameras are activated on weekdays from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. The devices are not used during school breaks and holidays.

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. Notification signs were also installed to alert drivers to the cameras.

The infraction is a noncriminal offense — similar to a parking ticket — that will not be included in the driver’s record. Violators may pay the fine, request a hearing or submit a “declaration of nonresponsibility.” If the owner was not driving the vehicle at the time of the incident, the declaration makes the driver responsible for the violation.

Police Chief Paul Ayers said the cameras help to ensure motorists drive carefully near the schools.

“It’s within a school zone, and we certainly want them to obey school zone speed limits,” he said.

Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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