Seattle Police point out this is “Stop on Red Week”

(February 2009 WSB photo)
West Seattle has two of the city’s two-dozen-plus red-light cameras (35th/Thistle and 35th/Avalon), and Seattle Police have just issued a news release pointing out — as part of “Stop on Red Week” — that those are two of many reasons why NOT to run a red light – read on:

Run a red light because you were late for an appointment and thought you dodged a traffic ticket because a Seattle Police officer was nowhere to be seen, but saw a bright flash in your rear view mirror? Good luck!

What you were lucky enough to dodge was a crash. Running red lights is dangerous – causing more than 144,000 injuries and nearly 900 fatalities nationally in the most recent data. In Seattle, there are scores of crashes and injuries associated with red light running every year.

The Seattle Police Department, together with the American Traffic Solutions of Scottsdale, Arizona, runs a photo-enforcement Traffic Safety Camera Project. It is one of several programs that the department and the City of Seattle have sponsored to make streets safer and catch traffic law violators.

“Because it would be impossible to physically monitor all of the traffic signals in Seattle, the 28 traffic cameras that have been installed at 21 intersections of high concern since 2006 are an extension of our traffic enforcement effort to ultimately save lives – make you, the motorists, cyclists and pedestrians – safer,” said Lt. Pierre Davis, commander of the Seattle Police Traffic Section.

Having just concluded its third year in operation, more than 66,000 citations have been issued by the cameras for red light violations. As a preliminary indication that the cameras are making our streets safer, red light running is down more than 50 percent at the intersections that have the cameras. Preliminary findings also indicate that the six cameras that have been active the longest showed fewer injury crashes and persons injured compared with similar intersections without cameras.

By the end of the summer, there will be a total of 30 traffic safety cameras operating throughout the city. The full report on the program, including locations of the cameras, can be found online:

In partnership with the Federal Highway Administration during Stop on Red Week from August 2-8, 2009, the Seattle Police Department reminds motorists to stop on red, including those making right turns, and always practice safe driving habits – not just this week but every day of the year.

29 Replies to "Seattle Police point out this is "Stop on Red Week""

  • Dave August 3, 2009 (2:21 pm)

    Does this crackdown apply to bycicles?

  • Steve A. August 3, 2009 (2:28 pm)

    They omitted two other very important statistics:

    1. How much revenue did these cameras provide for both the city & the American Traffic Solutions corporation?

    2. How did they influence the overall rate of accidents at the intersections?

    They say red light running is down 50%, but what about the incidence of rear ending for people slamming on their breaks the second the light turns yellow?

    Case in point: “Preliminary findings also indicate that the six cameras that have been active the longest showed fewer injury crashes and persons injured compared with similar intersections without cameras.”

    Note they don’t talk about non-injury accidents, which are the majority of rear ending incidents.

  • Lucian August 3, 2009 (2:42 pm)

    I’ve noticed that at the 35th and Thistle intersection, that camera flash goes off all the time, whether there’s someone in the intersection or not and whether the light’s green or not. I guess with the advent of digital photography, taking extra pictures is cheap, but what exactly does the police department do with all the extra pictures it’s taking?

  • Smitty August 3, 2009 (3:07 pm)

    For those of you with an iphone or Blackberry with GPS you need to check out this app.

    I just downloaded it two weeks ago – not only does it give you audio warnings of known red-light cams, but other users input speed traps (as they go by them) and it warns everyone else as they approach. It’s very cool – and no – I don’t work for the company!

  • Miss Courtney August 3, 2009 (3:13 pm)

    FYI Lucian sometimes those “extra” pics are of people taking their legal free right hand turn. I imagine someone weeds those out, as I’ve had it flash at me but never received a ticket yet for my free right turns.

  • star55 August 3, 2009 (3:23 pm)

    I love that the camera’s are out there and I do not plan on getting any tickets myself.

  • Adam August 3, 2009 (3:36 pm)


    Big Brother is watching you.

  • Sue August 3, 2009 (3:52 pm)

    What’s really ridiculous is that we need a special week to tell us why we should obey the law of stopping at red lights. What’s next, “Please don’t kill anyone” week?

  • WSB August 3, 2009 (3:53 pm)

    Every single day is the official day/week of something or another … National Pickle Relish Day, National Stand on Your Head Day, whatever. It does get to be silly.
    However, in this case, Seattle Police send out very few non-urgent news releases so we thought it worth sharing … also realizing some people probably don’t realize we already have a couple red-light cameras around here … TR

  • Jen August 3, 2009 (4:26 pm)

    Way to go guys… wanna know the super downside to those camera flashes? They can set off an epileptic seizure. Bet no one thought of that. Thanks for putting my boyfriend in danger.

  • pigeonmom August 3, 2009 (6:11 pm)

    I’ll celebrate National Pickle Relish Day, when is it? ;-)

  • 56bricks August 3, 2009 (6:51 pm)

    I love pickle relish. When is it’s day and can I donate to the cause? And, is it legal to do so while standing on my head?

  • Eddie August 3, 2009 (7:05 pm)

    What happens to bus drivers that run red lights? Do the camera’s catch the coach number and does metro somehow dock the drivers pay? Frankly, the biggest offenders I observe are Metro buses.

  • gretchen August 3, 2009 (7:08 pm)

    Steve A
    I’m sure that your concern for those not paying attention drivers that rear-end law abidding drivers are a huge concern to the MANY families who have lost family members at the intersection of 35TH and Thistle. Police are not out to only produce revenue but for the city they are working to help create a better community for all. Don’t break the law…and one will not help create more revenue…so to speak.

  • PSPS August 3, 2009 (8:23 pm)

    I was wondering what private corporation gets a cut of the take on these cameras. I see now it’s “American Traffic Solutions of Scottsdale, Arizona” who assists in this extortion. They get $50 for every ticket.
    This is all about revenue and not safety at all. In fact, studies prove these cameras increase both the number of accidents and their severity. One example can be found here:
    If this were really safety-related, the cops could perform their actual job instead of congregating at Dona Queen, whose parking lot looks like a precinct in the morning. Plus the city could keep the $50 cut they’re giving the corporate predator. Plus the physical presence of cops would deter people from speeding and running the light. But that won’t happen. These “stealth surveillance” tactics are just so much more profitable for the cash-strapped city.

  • Todd August 3, 2009 (8:46 pm)

    Amen Eddie!

  • eileen August 3, 2009 (9:22 pm)

    I find the flashes going off as a significant distraction while I’m lawfully trying to drive my car. When I was coming up to the Thistle and 35th light (slowing to a stop and not speeding) the light just turned red – it went off and was so bright I almost drove into the intersection. Way to go. I did not but it was really disorienting. Someone had made a turn like what Lucian mentioned.

  • Rob August 3, 2009 (10:44 pm)

    What they need to do is not post up warnings for people. Imagine how much money they could make if there was no Warning signs

  • Henry August 3, 2009 (11:31 pm)

    Someone mentioned that the camera company gets $50 per ticket. If true, that’s an illegal contingency agreement, sorta like if cops got paid on the basis of how many tickets they issued. Whoever at the City OK’d the $50-per-ticket deal left the City vulnerable to a big lawsuit. The City should immediately convert the contract to a flat rate – so much per camera per month, independent of how many tickets are issued.


  • WSB August 3, 2009 (11:48 pm)

    PSPS, what’s the source on the $50? I am looking through city studies, etc., and trying to find the source contract, as well as combing the Google-plex, and haven’t found a citation – so to speak – for that yet. Part of the city’s pilot study mentioned a per-month cost figure but not a ticket breakdown. Thank you – TR
    11:57 pm – found the contracts. So far, have found the one for the school-zone speed van – $3K per month plus $6.50 “per event processed.” (Same company.)

    12:07 am – found the rest of the contracts. There is a FIVE-DOLLAR fee listed for the vendor after the first 800 citations per camera per month (a flat fee covers everything above that), per the last page of this doc:
    If you have another citation for a $50 fee, let me know, but those are straight from the contracts. By the way, anyone interested in reading city vendor contracts might as well have the URL I turned up to find this one – hadn’t been to this section of the city website before:

  • Miss Courtney August 4, 2009 (6:28 am)

    I also heard on NPR that someone in our state is suing to get the cameras removed. Something about a law that enabled the cities to put them in stipulating that since they are safety driven (not revenue generators) the fee is supposed to be similar to a parking ticket and not count against driving record.

  • Julian August 4, 2009 (2:18 pm)

    What we should do is put up some kind of warning system at these intersections to alert people that these traffic cameras are in place. For example, a color-coded signal light placed above the intersection so approaching drivers can see it; red indicates you should stop, green means it’s safe to go through. That way drivers can avoid getting tickets. I think this idea has potential.

  • David August 4, 2009 (2:35 pm)

    If people can’t or won’t behave responsibly and actually give a thought to what they’re doing (like driving a car) then the city is right to motivate them. Just like punishing children for behaving badly. Speeding, floor it on the yellow etc. A bunch of overgrown kids.

  • SafeDriver August 4, 2009 (3:01 pm)

    Can you imagine what it must be like at night in the living rooms of the homes bordering that intersection?? FLASH! FLASH! FLASH!! That would be very frustrating!

  • noreaster August 4, 2009 (5:18 pm)

    Good idea Julian! hahaha

  • PSPS August 5, 2009 (9:51 pm)

    I took the $50-per-ticket payoff from the hyperlinked article in my message. In that article, which describes the arrangement between the City of Alexandria, Virginia and the same “American Traffic Solutions of Scottsdale, Arizona,” it says:

    A March 2008 memo calculated the financial benefits of a “cost neutral” program. This is how it works: Up to a certain amount, ATS is compensated $50 for each traffic ticket issued. After the monthly target amount of tickets is issued, all subsequent revenue is kept by the city. This arrangement is designed to allow cities to operate red-light camera programs without ever running the risk of having to pay for the program.

  • M. August 5, 2009 (11:57 pm)

    I look forward to a “Stop Completely At Stop Signs” week !

    Great comments, Julian and David !

  • WSB August 6, 2009 (12:20 am)

    We do too, living next to a dual-arterial corner where dozens run the signs OR do “California stops” every day …

  • sara August 10, 2009 (10:12 pm)

    Ack! I moved to Seattle last week, and tonight, during my first taste of Seattle rainfall, a light turned yellow just as I was coming to it. I was going down hill, and considering the rain, I thought it safer to proceed than slam on my brakes and risk skidding into the intersection. The light turned red about 3/4 the way through, and the lights flashed… I’m guessing I should expect a ticket in the mail? Ridiculous.

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