City will try red light photo enforcement program

On Sept. 4, the Federal Way City Council decided to proceed with a red light photo enforcement pilot program.

Details as to when the cameras will be placed are still undetermined, Traffic Lieutenant Connie Shupp said. The police department, public works department, traffic engineers and camera vendors will all need to meet to discuss the pilot program in more depth, she said.

Enforcement cameras are expected to be placed at two intersections within the city, Shupp said. The suggested intersections — South 320th Street and Pacific Highway South along with South 348th Street and Enchanted Parkway — are high-traffic areas. Cameras will be placed at all four approaches to these intersections, which will be clearly marked so the public will be aware of the cameras, she said.

Shupp plans to recommend that a 30-day grace period be enforced before the cameras begin issuing traffic citations. After this period, tickets costing $124 will be issued to red light violators, Shupp said.

The cameras will capture a 12-second recording of the red light violation and the offending vehicle’s rear license plate number, but will not photograph or record the face of the vehicle’s driver. Tickets will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle that ran the red light, Shupp said.

“(The use of the cameras is) not so much to issue a ticket, but to get people to comply with the law,” Shupp said.

The cameras will help reduce collisions caused by drivers running red lights, she said. The highest number of traffic incidents occurring in Federal Way happen at or near intersections, according to a report compiled by Shupp and presented to the Parks, Recreation and Public Safety Council Committee on Feb. 13.

The pilot program is also expected to reduce traffic congestion, allowing for clear intersections and better traffic flow, according to the same report.

The red light photo enforcement program is already in place in cities such as Seattle and Auburn. The program took approximately three years to launch in Seattle, but Auburn has moved forward with it fairly quickly, Shupp said. There is no telling how long it may take Federal Way to launch its pilot program, but Shupp expects it will not take a substantial amount of time, assuming there are no hang-ups with the City Council, she said.

“This is very much in its infancy stage,” Shupp said.

The Federal Way program will be evaluated after one year to determine its effectiveness, Shupp said. To meet costs, each camera must issue at least two tickets per day, she said. After one year the City Council will decide whether it wishes to keep the enforcement cameras in place.

Contact Jacinda Howard:

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