Spokane considering red light program in school zones

Councilman Fagan concerned people will see it as a money grab

Spokane considering red light program in school zones

SPOKANE, Wash. - Drivers going over 20 miles per hour in Spokane's school zones may soon find a ticket in the mail from an automated speed reader if the city's plans to crack down on school zone speeders become a reality.

The cameras would work like red light cameras. Once a car passes through the school zone and is exceeding the speed limit the camera would take a picture of only the license plate and car and send the citation to the registered owner of the car. Whether or not that citation is a fine or a warning, is still being decided, among other things.

The Spokane City Council has approved a pilot project to install speed reader devices 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," Councilmember Candace Mumm said.

It's still in the planning stage and city staffers are working with the Spokane Police Department to decide where the test run would be, if citations would actually be a ticket 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 a 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.

Seattle already uses them and the state legislature is looking at making the pilot projects permanent. In the first year cameras captured more than 44 ,000 drivers speeding. Two years later citations went down to 15,000.

Some, like Councilman Mike Fagan, don't think it's a good idea.

"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," Fagan said.

Fagan said that people will think it's just a money grab but for others it could mean a life spared. 

"I walk with my kids every day to school and people don't pay attention and they go too fast on the side streets, they don't care about school zones, kids will get hurt," parent Krystal Turner said.

The project is still being developed and the finalized proposal has to go back to the council for approval before it is implemented. Councilmember Mumm would like to see it in place by fall.