Cameras to start catching speeders as students return
August 23, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Motorists caught exceeding 20 mph limit face $124 fine
Issaquah police plan to reactivate speed-enforcement cameras near Issaquah High School and other campuses next week, as students return to schools along Second Avenue Southeast and elsewhere in the Issaquah School District.
Police deactivated the cameras during the summer hiatus. Now, as classes resume Aug. 30, police plan to activate the cameras from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days, just as in past years. Cameras aimed in both directions along the street capture license plate information on vehicles exceeding the 20 mph school zone speed limit.
Motorists exceeding the speed limit face a $124 fine. The infraction is a noncriminal offense similar to a parking ticket and does not become part of the violator’s driving record.
The fine and information about the violation arrive in the mail several days after the incident.
People can pay the fine outright, request a hearing in Issaquah Municipal Court or submit a declaration of nonresponsibility. The last option is sometimes used if a person other than the vehicle’s owner drove the vehicle during the violation.
The cameras photograph and record only vehicles exceeding the school zone speed limit.
Changes in the school zone could also cause traffic to proceed at a slower pace as the school year starts.
How cameras catch speeders
The speed-enforcement cameras — installed across from Clark Elementary School near the intersection of Second Avenue Southeast and Southeast Evans Street — use roadway sensors to alert the cameras to vehicles exceeding the 20 mph school zone speed limit.
The system includes a pair of cameras to capture a photo and video of a speeding vehicle’s rear license plate. Motorists receive a $124 fine in the mail about 14 days after the incident.
Construction on Issaquah High School continues and, in the latest phase, crews plan to complete curbs along the west side of the street, as well as a right-turn lane at Second Avenue Southeast and Front Street South. In the meantime, repaving is occurring near the rebuilt high school.
The potential for problems exists as motorists and pedestrians hustle through a crowded area near the campuses for the high school, Clark Elementary School, Issaquah Middle School and Tiger Mountain Community High School.
“We have a lot of people on foot along the sidewalks, in the crosswalks,” Issaquah Patrol Cmdr. Scott Behrbaum said.
The morning and afternoon rush periods also include school buses, teenagers headed to the high school, parents dropping off children, and children and parents astride bicycles.
“It’s really important to slow down,” Behrbaum said. “There’s a big difference between going 25 mph and 20 mph on how quickly you can stop your vehicle. It is important to do because we do have a lot of pedestrians on the sidewalk along the roadway.”
Elsewhere, as classes resume, the police department plans to deploy officers in patrol cruisers to school zones inside city limits.
The city rolled out the speed-enforcement program in March 2009 and, after a monthlong trial period, started issuing infractions. Officials selected American Traffic Solutions, a company based in Scottsdale, Ariz., to administer the cameras.
“We had the grace period at the very beginning, so now we’re to the point where people should know enough,” Behrbaum said. “Granted, there’s going to be new drivers, but the hope is that that education process is kind of ongoing.”
The school zone setup is the only photo-enforcement traffic program in Issaquah, and no plans exist to add more cameras elsewhere.
“In general, there’s not as many inquiries, there’s not as many questions or concerns about it,” Behrbaum said. “It really has become part of the expectation on Second Avenue.”
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.