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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Seattle Expands Red Light Camera Program

1/2/2008  10:30:00 AM

Seattle Expands Red Light Camera Program
24 additional cameras will be installed across city in 2008

SEATTLE - Following a successful one-year pilot, Mayor Greg Nickels announced today the city will install an additional 24 red light cameras at 19 intersections during 2008, bringing the total to 30 red light cameras in use at 22 intersections citywide.

“There is no excuse for running a red light,” Nickels said. “An instant of recklessness or neglect can take a life or cause serious injury. Expanding this successful program will make our streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.”

The Seattle Police Department and the city’s Department of Transportation selected the 19 intersections based on traffic safety. (See page four of attached document for a complete list of intersections)

Nickels was joined today by City Councilmembers Nick Licata and Tom Rasmussen, who have helped lead the effort to install cameras and expand the program. The mayor and City Council have both made improving pedestrian safety a top priority in Seattle.

“The increased use of red light cameras is intended to make drivers slow down and pay attention, or pay a fine if they don't,” Licata said. “I hope to see the city add more each year until we change our driving behavior.”

“There has been a 50 percent reduction of moving violations at intersections where cameras are now in place,” Rasmussen said. “The cameras are already proving effective in creating safer streets and neighborhoods.”

In a report released today, staff evaluating the one-year pilot program found red light cameras at four high-traffic intersections appeared to be making streets safer for pedestrians and drivers.

The study found the frequency of red light running generally dropped by 50 percent at the intersections where cameras have been installed. The number of injury accidents and the number of people injured also declined.

The city conducted the pilot to test the effectiveness of a technology that has been shown to reduce deadly “T-Bone” side-impact collisions in more than 100 cities worldwide. The technology also makes it safer for pedestrians to cross these busy streets.

“Red light cameras are showing themselves to be an important tool to reduce injury accidents at dangerous intersections and enhance pedestrian safety at the same time,” said Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske.

The study found the public, in general, has responded favorably to this initiative.

The budget for the one-year project was $460,000. The city was billed approximately $3,500 per month for the services provided by each camera and this cost was covered by the $101 fines levied against each red light violation.

Six camera systems operated at four intersections in the pilot project:
• Eastbound and westbound approaches at Denny Way and Fairview Avenue North;
• Northbound and southbound approaches at Rainier Avenue South and South Orcas Street;
• Eastbound approach at Fifth Avenue and Spring Street; and
• Eastbound approach at Roosevelt Way and Northeast 45th Street.

The program issued 16,539 citations during the pilot, resulting in about $1.1 million in monetary penalties. While the red light cameras appear to be paying for themselves, public safety is the primary reason for the program.

Using sensors at these intersections, the digital cameras photograph the license plates of cars running a red light. A Seattle police officer reviews each violation and, if approved, a $101 citation is mailed to the vehicle’s registered owner. The stepped-up enforcement encourages drivers to be more careful when passing through the intersections. Starting in 2008, the fine increases to $124, equal to those for red light violations detected by police officers.

A study by the Federal Highway Administration showed red light cameras had a significant effect in reducing dangerous accidents. Vehicles running red lights typically increase speed and can cause high-speed, side-door collisions resulting in serious injury and death.

The program is one element of Nickels’ and the Council’s effort to improve pedestrian safety throughout the city. In May 2005, the mayor launched a 10-point pedestrian safety campaign, and the city has stiffened penalties for negligent driving.

More than 100 communities in California, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia have installed red light cameras. Lakewood was the first city in Washington to use the cameras. The state legislature authorized statewide use of red light cameras in 2005.

Red Light Camera Locations – New & Existing
30 Cameras (24 new) and 22 (19 new) Intersections


New Existing


North Seattle

EB Northwest Market @ 15 th Northwest

EB 45 th @ Roosevelt

WB Northwest Market @ 15 th Northwest

SB 15 th Northwest @ Northwest 80 th

SB Stone Way @ Northwest 40 th

NB Aurora @ Northwest 85 th

EB Northeast 80 th @ Fifth Northeast

EB Northeast 45 th @ Union Bay Place (“Five Corners”)

WB Northeast 45 th @ Union Bay Place (“Five Corners”)

NB Northeast 45 th @ Union Bay Place (“Five Corners”)


Central Seattle

SB Sixth @ James

EB 5th @ Spring

SB Fifth @ Spring

EB Denny @ Fairview

SB First @ Marion

WB Denny @ Fairview

NB Broadway @ Olive (Ped)

EB Olive @ Broadway (Ped)

SB Broadway @ Pine (Ped)

SB Boren @ James

SB 23rd @ E John

NB Ninth @ James (Ped)


South Seattle

NB 14th South @ Cloverdale

NB Rainier @ South Orcas

EB Cloverdale @ 14th South

SB Rainier @ South Orcas

WB Avalon @ 35th Southwest

SB 35th Southwest @ Southwest Thistle

NB Rainier @ South Massachusetts

WB South McClellan @ Martin Luther King


Note: The (Ped) label indicates that the intersection was pre-screened specifically for pedestrian injuries and then cross-checked for a significant red light running problem.


NB = Northbound

SB = Southbound


EB = Eastbound

WB = Westbound


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