Police laud Lynnwood’s red-light cams

LYNNWOOD — The eyes in the sky around Lynnwood’s streets are watching for drivers sneaking through red lights and speeding through school zones.

Red-light cameras in particular have been “very successful,” police Chief Steve Jensen told the City Council at a Dec. 7 work session. “We see it as a modification of driving behavior.”

He outlined how the implementation of red-light cameras — and newly installed speed-enforcement traffic cameras in a pair of school zones — are moving forward.

The two school-zone speed cameras, which were added to the traffic program this fall, join 10 red-light cameras that are installed at eight intersections in the city. The city began using red-light cameras July 1, 2007.

Cameras capture vehicles running red lights or speeding in school zones. Each instance is reviewed first by the vendor of the service. Lynnwood police officers then take a second look to ensure that the infraction meets the department’s standards.

So far, 60,000 citations have been issued after reviewing 100,000 events of red-light runners, Jensen said. Those where tickets weren’t sent “just didn’t meet our standards. It may be a right turn was made without making a full stop, or someone was caught in an intersection behind a large truck.”

He conceded that the recent implementation of the photo speed program in two school zones has been problematic.

“We have seen implementation of photo speed monitoring that is nowhere near as smooth as the photo-red has been,” Jensen said. “Cameras are flashing at inappropriate times. (The problem) is technology related.”

The root of the problem is that cameras were installed with a wireless system.

“This is not working,” Jensen said. “During the Christmas break it will be fixed and will be hard-wired. Until then drivers will see the flash of the camera at all times, not just during school zone times, and no citation will be issued (in these instances).”

City leaders want to slow drivers down through school zones.

“The cameras are not meant as a ‘gotcha,’ but an enforcement to keep our kids safe,” Councilwoman Stephanie Wright said.

The school zone speed limit is 20 mph. Citations generally have been issued by officers at 26 mph; however, the cameras are set at 29 mph. A police department survey of Washington state jurisdictions indicated that the average speed for school-zone citations is 26 mph to 28 mph.

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