Seattle wants to expand traffic camera tickets to include other violations

Oct 30, 2018, 7:53 AM | Updated: 10:11 am
It's not uncommon to see cars blocking the box in downtown Seattle. (KTTH, Jason Rantz)
(KTTH, Jason Rantz)

Red light cameras and speed zone cameras might be getting some company on Seattle’s streets as Mayor Jenny Durkan plans to expand their use into other violations.

What is one of the worst problems in downtown Seattle? It’s blocking-the-box. People who pull into the intersection, knowing that they will be blocking traffic, just so they can squeeze in on the next light.

We see this problem on steroids on Mercer with lines as long as two or three cars deep encroaching in the intersections. We see buses do it all the time. We see pedestrians crossing against the lights, preventing turns. It’s an epidemic.

That said, on Mercer for example, if you don’t try to squeeze in, you might not move.

Mayor Durkan will attack blocking-the-box with more enforcement.

“We will be enforcing our traffic laws that restrict mobility, whether it’s a pedestrian, a bike, or a bus,” she said. “We will be doing more enforcement on blocking bus lanes, blocking bike lanes and blocking the intersections.”

To accomplish this goal, the mayor wants to expand photo enforcement. She wants to put in cameras that will produce tickets for drivers who block the box or other lanes.

“We will be going to Olympia to see if we can get the authority to do that with camera enforcement,” Mayor Durkan said. “We know that if a police officer pulls a car over in the middle of the busiest intersection because they block the bike lane or block the box or block the bus that it just backs traffic up.”

The Legislature is the only place where local jurisdictions can get the authority to expand photo enforcement. It’s only allowed for red lights, speed zones and tolling facilities. There was an attempt recently to expand their use to catch bus lane violators, but that didn’t go anywhere in Olympia. Mayor Durkan believes lawmakers will be more sympathetic to this, however.

“I think that Olympia understands that it is in everyone’s best interest to increase mobility through the City of Seattle,” she said.

We don’t know what kind of fines the city is proposing or where it plans to put these cameras, if approved. They would likely be put in the worst trouble areas first, like the Mercer corridor.

If they follow the typical fine schedule, a ticket would likely cost a violator $136. We also don’t know if the enforcement would extend to cover buses that block the box.

RELATED: Metro’s illegal, dangerous driving part of bigger problem, says Rantz

More Chokepoints


Maple Valley Highway...
Chris Sullivan

King County crews find mystery structure under Maple Valley Highway

You never know what you are going to find when you dig in this corner of the country. Road crews found that out over the weekend when fixing a culvert under Highway 169
10 hours ago
Climate Pledge Arena...
Chris Sullivan

Getting to Climate Pledge Arena 101: Prepare to ditch the car

The old ways of getting to the arena in downtown Seattle have intentionally been made more difficult so that public transit is a more palatable option.
5 days ago
I-5, bumps...
Chris Sullivan

Why there are bumps along I-5 through downtown Seattle (and when they’ll go away)

When KIRO Radio's Dave Ross asks you to update something for him, you do it. So what's with those annoying bumps on I-5 SB out of downtown Seattle?
7 days ago
I-90, grooves...
Chris Sullivan

Why are portions of I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass so ‘groovy’?

Another question from Chris Sullivan's recent driving: What's with the horizontal grooves on portions of I-90, east of Snoqualmie Pass?
12 days ago
traffic, right lane...
Chris Sullivan

Chokepoint Challenge: Stay in the right lane to get through traffic faster

In Sully's first "Chokepoint Challenge," he wants you to test the theory that when traffic is backed up, you move faster in the right lane than the left.
14 days ago
Seattle I-5, steel, revive...
Chris Sullivan

Final Revive I-5 closure of the year, more school zone cameras, and light rail

This is a Chokepoints grab bag edition where Chris Sullivan covers the return of Revive I-5, more school traffic cameras, and the light rail extension.
19 days ago

Sponsored Articles


How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Seattle wants to expand traffic camera tickets to include other violations