New smart traffic signs in King County will do more than just monitor speed

KING COUNTY, Wash. — Drivers around King County will soon be monitored and given a warning if they’re engaging in dangerous driving behaviors.

It’s all part of a new pilot program in King County. The county is placing “Smart Signs” in SODO, White Center, Issaquah and Pacific. The technology is made by Safer Street Solutions, and it is more than just a sensor that monitors speed.

“We’ve spent three or four years developing a very special sensor that uses microwave and infrared waves to be able to tell if there is a phone in someone’s hand and it can detect if it’s a passenger and if someone has a phone in the cradle and really focuses on the type of behavior that’s really dangerous,” Tim Hogan, the founder of Safer Street Solutions, said.

However, not everyone thinks this is the problem the county should be focusing on.

“The speeding and the people on cell phones I get that’s a problem but that’s the least of our problems here,” said Shannon Woodman, the CEO of Washington Alarm.

The county placed one of the signs right outside her building at the intersection of Airport Way and Hill Street. She pointed out that it’s blocked by metro buses and trees. Hogan said they will be moving it soon.

“There was a metal building there and that was interfering with a lot of radio signals, so we just needed a booster to be able to move it further down,” Hogan said.

“The placement of it is very puzzling to me,” Woodman said.  The price tag for these four smart signs is $50,000 for six months.

“I spend thousands of dollars every month on cleanup of what’s left behind and I’m absolutely appalled that we are spending money on some kind of signage that is supposed to keep people off of their cell phones,” Woodman said.

“The issue in SODO is not people driving on their cell phones driving down the road, it’s the vandalism and the homelessness and the drug problems that we have here,” said Woodman.

Hogan said that all four smart signs should be up and running by the end of April.