Seattle Police begin crackdown on blocking intersections

Seattle Police are starting their first big crackdown on drivers who block intersections.

SEATTLE, Wash. — As rain fell and traffic crawled through Seattle on Thursday evening, Seattle Police launched their first publicized crackdown of drivers who block intersections.

The five officers stationed at Ninth and Howell, who also enforced nearby bus-only lanes, couldn't keep up with all the "block the box" violators.

Seattle Police said no numbers were immediately available, but officers were issuing a mix of warnings and $136 tickets.

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"The goal of this operation isn't to write tickets," said Seattle Police Sergeant Sean Whitcomb. "The goal of the operation is to keep traffic moving."

Cars aren't the only vehicles that can get caught in intersections.

Bus drivers are also sometimes violators, as is clear from a quick search of Twitter with people sending photos and complaints to King County Metro.

A Metro spokesman called the incidents "mistakes" and said bus drivers are expected to follow rules of the road.

But the transit agency also said it's tough to maneuver a 60-foot bus through intersections, especially when traffic is terrible.

Whitcomb said in many cases, drivers in cars cut in front of buses, leaving them no choice.

"Stopping a Metro transit driver because the tail end of their bus is in the intersection because a sedan cut in front of them as they're clearing it may not make the most sense for us," Whitcomb said.

Whitcomb doesn't rule out ticketing bus drivers.

But he said it is probably more effective for an officer to take a note of a coach number and forward it to Metro supervisors for discipline rather than stop a bus and cause delays.