According to the attorneys with Althauser Rayan Abbarno, a new law signed by Governor Jay Inslee allows automated traffic safety cameras to be used to detect various traffic violations on state highways, in addition to previously locations like stoplights, railroad crossing, school speed zone violations, or speed violations in certain cities.
In 2020, the Legislature authorized a three-year pilot program regarding the use of automated traffic safety cameras to detect certain stopping and restricted lane violations within cities with a population greater than 500,000—currently the city of Seattle.
In 2022, the Legislature expanded the use of automated traffic safety cameras, specifically to detect speed violations on roadways in school walk areas, in public park speed zones, and hospital speed zones, with appropriate signage at each location; to allow cities to operate at least one automated traffic safety camera to detect speed violations for every 10,000 residents within the city, subject to certain location requirements and completion of an equity analysis to identify appropriate camera locations; to extend the three-year pilot program another two years on the use of such cameras to detect certain stopping and restricted lane violations within cities with a population greater than 500,000.
According to the new law,
- WSDOT is responsible for all actions related to the operation and administration of speed safety camera systems in state highway work zones including, but not limited to, the procurement and administration of contracts necessary for the implementation of speed safety camera systems and the mailing of notices of infraction for speed violations.
- WSP is responsible for all actions related to enforcement and adjudication of speed violations captured by speed safety camera systems in state highway work zones including, but not limited to, notice of infraction verification and issuance authorization, and determining which types of emergency vehicles are exempt from being issued notices of infraction for speed violations.
- Notices of infraction may only be issued if a speed safety camera system captures a speed violation in a state highway work zone when workers are present. Notices of infraction may be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle within 30 days of the violation, or to the renter of a vehicle within 30 days of establishing the renter’s name and address.
- Speed safety camera systems in state highway work zones may only take electronic images of the vehicle and license plate and while a speed violation is occurring, and must not reveal the face of the driver or passengers in the vehicle. Camera systems should be installed in a manner that minimizes the impact of camera flash on drivers.
- Speed safety camera system locations must be clearly marked before camera activation by placing signs in locations that clearly indicate to drivers they are entering a state highway work zone with posted speed limits being monitored by speed safety camera systems. Radar speed feedback signs will be placed in advance of speed safety camera systems, where feasible and constructive, to advise drivers of posted speed limits.
- Any revenue generated from the use of speed safety camera systems must be deposited into the highway safety fund and first used for operating and administrative costs relating to speed safety camera system use. Any revenue generated in excess of operating and
- administrative costs must be distributed for the purpose of traffic safety, including driver training education and local DUI emphasis patrols.
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