File photo
The school zone camera setup along Fauntleroy Way S.W. near Gatewood Elementary in West Seattle. Revenue from tickets issued by these cameras will be used by Seattle to improve pedestrian safety near schools.

School zone speeders will pay for safety improvements with their tickets

While speeding through a school zone never deserves applause, those who have chosen to do so are, in a round-about way, helping make roads near schools safer in Seattle.

On Sept. 4, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced the city expects to bring in $14.8 million in speeding ticket revenue by the end of 2014 from automated school zone speed cameras used throughout the city, and that the money will be used for improvements including new sidewalks, improved street crossings and traffic calming measures at over 20 different schools.

“Keeping children safe as they travel to and from school, as well as throughout their neighborhood, is a top priority,” McGinn said during a press conference. “This substantial new investment will help us make lasting improvements and encourage everyone to be safe on our roads.”

In November of 2012, the city installed speed zone cameras at four schools in the city, including along Fauntleroy Way S.W. next to Gatewood Elementary in West Seattle. Looking back on that pilot program, they are calling it a success that deserves expansion with plans to install 15 more by the end of 2014 (two of those are expected in early 2014 at Roxhill Elementary and Holy Family Parish School, both on S.W. Roxbury St.).

According to the Mayor’s office, “between December 2012 and April 2013 citations fell by 16 percent overall at those (four) locations. “

“The goal of this program is not to issue tickets,” Seattle Police spokesman Det. Jeff Kappel wrote back in 2012, “but to improve safety and reduce collisions by raising awareness that speeding in school zones is particularly dangerous for children and pedestrians.”

So while ticket revenue may not be the primary goal, it certainly sounds like a significant side benefit. The city estimates enough $189 tickets have and will be mailed to speeders from the project’s inception until the end of 2014 to generate that $14.8 million to improve safety as our children make their way to school each day.

McGinn’s office said around $2.9 million in ticket revenue has been appropriated towards road safety so far with an additional $3.3 million expected “as part of the 3rd quarter supplemental budget request” in 2013. They mayor plans to ask for $8.6 million to be used for improvements in his 2014 budget.

In addition to infrastructure improvements and more cameras, the city plans to use funds for safety education and other programs – both for students and drivers.

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.