Seattle cracking down on street racing with speed enforcement cameras

Sep 7, 2023, 10:31 AM | Updated: 11:08 am

speed enforcement cameras...

Street racers run from police soon after blocking a highway. (Photo by Sebastian Barros via Getty Images)

(Photo by Sebastian Barros via Getty Images)

The Seattle City Council passed legislation at the end of July, sponsored by Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Alex Pederson, to reduce drag racing and dangerous driving.

The city ordinance is set to kickstart plans to install speed enforcement cameras in key areas of the city that are heavily impacted by unsafe driving.

More on dangerous driving: Rollover car collision injures three as driver flees scene

“Our community has been pleading for help for years to stop drag racing. This month’s crash on Alki Avenue Southwest shows just how dangerous conditions have become,” said Councilmember Herbold, the Chair of the Public Safety Committee. “I’m proud to have partnered with neighbors and pass this first-of-its-kind legislation to make our streets safer.”

Herbold was referencing a violent crash that occurred between two cars on Alki Avenue last week, causing residents living in the area to speak out against speeding and reckless driving, which has been a dangerous problem, according to KIRO 7.

“We have to stop prioritizing the speed of cars over safety and accessibility, especially the safety of students, seniors, people with disabilities, and people who can’t afford to drive,” Anna Zivarts, a Seattle Public Schools parent, said during the Seattle City Council. “I’m grateful that the city council has taken action.”

The passed legislation designated 10 dangerous zones throughout the city, which includes West Marginal Way, Sand Point Way, NE 65th Street near Magnuson Park, Seaview Avenue, 3rd Avenue, Martin Luther King Jr Way, Rainier Avenue, and two on Alki Avenue.

On August 14, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Seattle Police Department (SPD) identified Boren Ave and Howell St and the three-way intersection of Denny Way and Stewart St and Yale Street as additional locations to add cameras. These cameras are separate from the city’s plan of controlling street racing and are more focused on enforcing safety on high-traffic roads.

“The new cameras will allow the city to collect a larger data set for a more robust analysis of the impact and effectiveness of these types of automated enforcement programs,” the city said in an update on the project.

The City of Seattle will also install a transit lane enforcement camera on the West Seattle Bridge, just west of State Route 99, to monitor the bus lane to prevent people from illegally driving where they are not allowed.

Washington state authorized cities to use automated camera enforcement in restricted racing zones last year.

More on Seattle driving: Eight new Seattle cameras will automatically ticket drivers starting in March

“Automated cameras are an effective enforcement elixir that discourage reckless driving, increase pedestrian safety, and increase efficiency by reducing time-consuming interactions between drivers and police,” said Councilmember Pedersen, the Chair of the Transportation Committee. “This technology is another tool in our tool belt to reduce collisions and save lives on some of our city’s most dangerous roadways.”

According to the city council, the SDOT is now in the process of completing its analysis — required by state law — prior to installing the enforcement cameras.

The city expects to install the cameras at the three identified locations at the beginning of September.

On September 26, 2023, Mayor Bruce Harrell is expected to submit a proposed budget for 2024 and Pedersen has said that he hopes to see sufficient revenues to fund any upfront costs for the expanded automated camera enforcement program.

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Seattle cracking down on street racing with speed enforcement cameras