CHOKEPOINTS

‘Speeding is getting to be a bigger concern’: Auburn’s school zone traffic cameras return

Mar 22, 2022, 5:38 AM | Updated: 9:39 am
Auburn school cameras...
New traffic cameras in Auburn. (Chris Sullivan, KIRO Newsradio)
(Chris Sullivan, KIRO Newsradio)

After being removed eight years ago, speed cameras will be back this fall in school zones in Auburn.

Auburn had red light cameras and school zone cameras for eight years, but the city eliminated them in 2014. There was concern over whether they were providing enough money for the city, and whether they were actually reducing crashes.

Public Works Director Ingrid Gaub said the public liked the school zone cameras, and they appeared to work, cutting the tickets from 8,800 a year when they started to about 4,000 a year when they were pulled.

But the speeding is back.

“We are seeing that speeding is getting to be a bigger and bigger concern. Looking at photo enforcement and a way to actually do that enforcement, hopefully, will encourage that compliance so people will slow down, pay more attention when they are driving, and improve safety out there for everybody,” Gaub said.

Auburn did a two-day study earlier this year to track speeding. They sat at 18-20 school zones when the flashers were activated. What the city found was somewhat surprising.

“We saw over 5,000 people that drove faster than 26 miles an hour through that school zone during that time that the flashers were active,” Gaub said.

The speed limit is 20 miles per hour in active school zones.

So why the return to photo enforcement? The city just doesn’t have enough officers to change that behavior.

“That’s not something that our three or four traffic officers can enforce and actually get some better compliance because they can only be at one location at a time,” Gaub said.

The city council just approved a five-year contract to install and operate school zone cameras. Gaub said they will install between six and 12 cameras, which means they will likely be outside six to nine schools.

Over the next few months, the city will decide which schools will get the cameras.

“Some of the locations we had about 9% of the traffic driving at that 26 miles an hour and over, but at others, we were up to 45% of the traffic, so those with higher percentages are going to be some of those we’ll probably be looking at doing first,” Gaub said.

The city will look at the speeding behavior, how many kids are walking to school, and other factors in making the decisions.

Once the cameras are installed and active, the city will keep a close eye on the data to see if they are working.

“We are definitely going to be evaluating as we go and looking at whether or not we need to move locations, change locations as we go through and do the program,” she said. “As we get better compliance at one location, it may make sense at some point to take that camera from that location and put it at another school where maybe we’re not getting as good of compliance any longer.”

Gaub knows there are people who believe this is just a money grab for the city, but she said her motive is simply safety.

“That is the sole goal of what we’re trying to do with photo enforcement in Auburn: get better compliance from the drivers and slow them down,” she said.

Once the cameras are active in the fall, there will be a month of warnings before the $200 tickets are sent out. These warnings will be treated like parking tickets and will not go on your driving record.

The cameras will only be active when the school zone flashers are on.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.

Chokepoints

Trash is strewn along an Interstate 5 freeway on-ramp as viewed in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by G...
Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: A glance at current Washington state laws to avoid littering on the road

Littering is still a huge problem on our roads, but are you still required to carry a trash bag in your car?
7 days ago
Expansion joints underneath I-5 (KIRO Newsradio)...
Chris Sullivan

I-5 expansion joint repair will hamper your summer driving

If the weather holds, southbound I-5 will be shut-down this weekend through Seattle for the first of a summer’s worth of weekend closures for expansion joint repairs.
12 days ago
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)...
Chris Sullivan

ORCA card gets a reboot with instant value transfer feature

The new site and app will allow more than five million users to add money to their accounts instantly alongside 6,000 new card readers and vending machines.
15 days ago
fare...
Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: Sound Transit passes fare reform with diminished ridership accountability checks

Sound Transit no longer has mechanisms in place to check I-D's and track who isn't paying in the first place with their decision to remove law enforcement from the fare enforcement process.
18 days ago
Expansion joints I-5, bumps...
Chris Sullivan

Work to remove bumps along I-5 through downtown Seattle set to bring months of weekend closures

Workers are about kick off work to remove those bumps on I-5 through Seattle, but it's going to come with a heavy price for drivers.
26 days ago
WSDOT, HOV lanes...
Chris Sullivan

Northbound HOV optimism and aggressive litter cleanup in Puyallup

Nearly every morning on the KIRO Newsradio text line, I receive this question: When will the northbound HOV lane open?
28 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
‘Speeding is getting to be a bigger concern’: Auburn’s school zone traffic cameras return