Pilot program unveiled to catch school zone speeders

Pilot program unveiled to catch school zone speeders

SPOKANE -- - The Spokane City Council has approved a proposal for pilot project to install speed reader cameras that would ticket those going over the limit in a school zone.

"We have really seen some success in reducing accidents at intersections where we currently have this technology and we would like to do the same for children in Spokane," Councilwoman Candace Mumm said.

It's still in the planning stage. City staff is working with Spokane Police to decide where the test run would occur, if citations would be a fine or just warnings and what kind of device would be used to capture the speed.

"There are two types of technology available: one is something that's like radar gun and another type of technology is with a pressure plate, so that's part of the reason we want to do a pilot," Mumm said.

The project is similar to red-light cameras. Once a car passes through a school zone exceeding the limit, a camera would take a picture of the only the car and the license plate. The registered owner of the car would then be sent a ticket. Seattle is one city that already takes part in a pilot project. The State Legislature is looking at making the pilot projects permanent. According to House Bill 2426, in the first year, cameras captured more than 44,000 drivers speeding. Two years later, citations went down to 15,000.

However, some aren't on board to bring the project to Spokane.

"The first thing that came to my mind was, how do we justify putting the red light program in school zones when we really haven't had any incidents so to speak," Councilmember Mike Fagan said.

Fagan said he can't think of an incident where a child has been hurt because of a driver speeding in school zone. He worries that people will think it's just a "money grab." But others look at it as a life spared.

"I walk with my kids everyday to school and people don't pay attention," Krystal Turner, a mother of two said. "They go too fast on the side streets they don't care about school zones, kids will get hurt."

The proposal has to go back to the council for approval. Councilmember Mumm hopes to have it implemented by Fall 2014.