Seattle residents call for speed cameras amidst increased street racing



(The Center Square) – Seattle residents are calling on the city council to pass an ordinance that would establish more automated traffic safety cameras and designate restricted street racing zones.

Cameras would be implemented in walk areas, public park zones, hospital zones and restricted racing zones if passed by the full Seattle City Council. Restricted racing zones would be placed in parts of West Seattle including Harbor Avenue and by Alki Beach, and near and inside Magnuson Park.

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously to pass Council Bill 120600 out of the Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities Committee on July 18. During the public hearing, Seattleites called for the implementation of speed cameras. The Center Square could not confirm the full names of participants.

A resident named Sheila said that, from June 24 through July 1, she called the Seattle Police Department “up to 10 times” daily, as she tallied up to 40 cars speeding in her neighborhood.

“I was told to call with each incident – I felt uncomfortable doing this as I realized the police are limited as to what they could do,” she said in the committee meeting. “This council is who could put a stop to this very unsafe practice of speeding.”

Another resident named Jody spoke of a recent incident in which a woman was left in critical condition after a man hit her car at a high rate of speed, sending the woman’s car into the water in the Alki area on July 16. She added that her community hears drivers going at high speeds on a nightly basis.

Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales added an amendment that adds four more areas to the list of designated restricted street racing zones. These streets are mainly in the South Seattle area, including Rainier Ave and Martin Luther King Way South.

According to the councilmember, between those two streets, there have been a combined 270 collisions. That is 150 more collisions than the rest of the streets included in the council bill combined.

“At the very least, I will say I would rather have unbiased cameras capturing license plates than officers using their discretion to pull people over, because we know what consequences that can often have,” Morales said.

The council does not have any estimates for the costs in implementing traffic cameras and establishing restricted street racing zones. Camera systems are provided through third-party vendors and managed by the Seattle Police Department.

Critics of red-light cameras say the devices send much of the fine to the camera operators and don’t really reduce collisions as much as supporters say. Studies have shown the cameras reduce “t-bone” collisions but cause more rear-end collisions from drivers stopping or slowing down abruptly to avoid a ticket.

Council Bill 120600 will be up for a full Seattle City Council vote on July 25.

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