Launching a pilot program approved by the City Council in April, Bellevue will begin using cameras to enforce speed limits and enhance children's safety near Stevenson and Lake Hills elementary schools this week.
The council agreed to try using cameras to catch speeders in selected school zones as well as motorists running red lights at major intersections. A dozen cities in Washington use red light cameras.
Council members asked for regular reports so they can monitor the pilot program's effectiveness at enhancing safety.
Starting Monday, cameras will capture still images and video of motorists exceeding the 20-mph speed limit in the Stevenson and Lake Hills school zones. Only warnings will be issued in September. Starting in October, speeders will be fined $124.
"This safety program will help protect children in busy, high-traffic school zones," said Capt. John Manning. "The warning period gives drivers the opportunity to check their speed and comply with our school zone safety program before actual citations begin."
The city selected the location of speed cameras based on a history of violations and proximity to two schools. In 2008 there were 522 speed violation citations during school zone hours at these two schools.
During the hours when children are going to and leaving school, the cameras will monitor westbound traffic along Northeast Eighth Street at 143rd Avenue Northeast, and along Southeast Eighth Street at 143rd Place Southeast.
The city contracts with American Traffic Solutions, Inc. (ATS) to administer its safety program, but Bellevue Police will review each apparent violation prior to issuing warnings.
The system's speed detection technology has been synchronized with the flashing school zone lights to capture images of every vehicle exceeding the school zone speed limit. The fixed-speed site is posted with photo enforcement signs, giving drivers ample warning of the speed cameras and up to 150 feet to slow down.
This fall cameras to catch red-light runners are to be installed at still-to-be determined locations on Northeast Eighth Street, Bel-Red Road and 148th Avenue Northeast.
ATS provides red-light and speed camera enforcement programs for more than 170 communities across North America.
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