A yellow light for traffic safety cameras
It’s true we can’t
legislate against stupidity, nor can we write enough laws – or hire enough
officers, or buy enough technology – to prevent every single idiot from
injuring an innocent bystander with irresponsible behavior.
However, we can take
some steps to prevent needless injuries and deaths, particularly when it comes
to protecting our children.
We cautiously support
the council’s decision to install traffic safety cameras on SR-525 in front of
Olympic View Middle School, to monitor speed in the 20 mph zone, and at the
intersection of Harbour Pointe Boulevard North and SR-525, to monitor red light
runners, on a one-year trial basis.
We understand the
limited resources available in dollars and in trained officers, and think the
cameras, if effective, could be less costly to taxpayers than trying for the
impossible of installing an officer on every corner.
They are also safer than having an officer speed through the red light the violator just blew, putting more citizens at risk.
Should the numbers show
significantly improved behavior at either of those locations, we would support
a longer contract.
However, we aren’t convinced Advanced Traffic Solutions Inc. (the company leasing the cameras), or city staff gathered enough data in the original study, which only ran for one day – actually, 16 hours – at each location.
We question the validity of a single day’s worth of data, both in evaluating the safety of our roads, and in deciding whether to spend tens of thousands of tax dollars annually on a project that could either help, or harm the level of public safety.
Whether or not the
cameras are here to stay, the discussion generated some sound ideas for making
Mukilteo safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. We’d like to see those
The study of five
different intersections around town thought of by many as trouble spots for red
light runners didn’t show nearly the expected volume of violators during the
16-hour study period for each. However, with the exception of SR 525 and 5th
Street, the vast majority of those who did run the red were turning right.
We would like to see
that issue resolved somehow. We agree with Council Vice President Richard
Emery’s suggestion of considering signage at the most troubled intersections,
reminding motorists of the requirement to come to a complete stop before taking
what could potentially be a very costly “free” right turn should someone get
The signage would hopefully deter the more intelligent drivers among us; at the very least it would add teeth to the safety laws already in place.
The average time each light is amber ranges from 3.9 seconds at various locations, up to 4.5 seconds at SR-525 and Beverly Park Road. While no particular delay seems to show any better or worse numbers, we agree with Mayor Joe Marine that the timing should be consistent throughout the state, so people accustomed to having a certain amount of time to get through the light in their home city, don’t wrongly assume that padding is in place at all intersections.