Seattle deciding how to spend wave of cash from school speed cameras

by: John Knicely Updated:

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Seattle is riding a wave of cash from speed cameras in four school zones, the City Council is touting the results, and city leaders are trying to expand the program as they figure out how to spend $4 million more in ticket revenue than anticipated.The city started issuing tickets last December and analyzed data from a 4-month period.

 The city found the average speeding ticket was for 30 mph in the 20 mph school zone.  In that time period, the city saw a 16 percent reduction in the number of tickets issued and 96 percent of people ticketed did not receive another violation.

“You're seeing people getting it, slowing down,” said Seattle Police Captain Mike Nolan.  “The other part for us is it's a force multiplier.”The tickets are expensive at $196 each.  The city projected the speed cameras would bring in $800,000 in 2013, but they grossly underestimated.  The city now predicts more than $5 million for 2013.

Mayor Mike McGinn has recommended expanding the program to 5 more schools: Bailey Gatzert Elementary on Yesler, Dearborn Park Elementary on South Orcas Street, Roxhill Elementary and Holy Family in South Seattle, and Nathan Eckstein Middle School in Wedgewood.

Some of the extra money would go to the extra cameras.  The council is now deciding how else to spend the money.  Councilman Tim Burgess has proposed putting all revenue from the cameras toward road safety and capital improvements.  It will be up to the full council to decide.

And the council must decide how far the program will go.  Given the success touted of the pilot program, KIRO 7 asked if we can expect speed cameras in all Seattle school zones.

“Not necessarily, every school needs to be studied and SDOT is who does that,” said Captain Nolan.  “They look at schools and decide what the need is based on speed.”

School speed camera tickets count as a parking infraction, and not against your driving record.  The city offers a program where you can do some work to reduce the $189 fine.