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Originally published November 8, 2011 at 9:00 PM | Page modified November 8, 2011 at 11:17 PM

Voters put a stop sign on red-light camera use

Early voting results showed 65 percent of Monroe voters and 60 percent in Longview against continuing red-light cameras, while in Bellingham, 65 percent opposed starting a camera system.

Seattle Times staff reporter

quotes FYI - "Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions (ATS)" is, in fact, owned by... Read more
quotes The voters have spoken across the state. It is time for a statewide ban. Any legislator... Read more
quotes If the red light camera's worked as a deterrent, they wouldn't make any money. ... Read more

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Nothing less than a statewide ban of red-light cameras will satisfy opponents of the devices, following victories in all three cities with advisory votes on the issue Tuesday.

"It's a populist issue. The idea is that we want to get rid of the cameras and those who aren't with us aren't with the people," said Nick Sherwood, of Puyallup, creator of BanCams.com.

Voters Tuesday turned thumbs-down on red-light cameras in Bellingham, Monroe and Longview, campaigns that sprung out of a vote against the cameras last year in Mukilteo. The validity of the Mukilteo measure is now before the Washington Supreme Court.

Tuesday's results showed 65 percent of Monroe voters and 60 percent in Longview against continuing red-light cameras, while in Bellingham, 65 percent opposed starting a camera system.

In Longview, 58 percent of voters favored a separate surveillance-camera operation that targets speeders in school zones.

Sherwood said red-light-camera opponents will once more ask the Legislature to ban the devices, but he expects continued opposition from cities and companies making revenue from them.

The spokesman for the nation's largest installer of the cameras said he was disappointed in the votes and said the cameras save lives.

"There's no question that we will continue to share with the Legislature the benefits of the cameras, as we have in the past," said Charles Territo, of Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, which has contracts with 300 cities nationwide, including 15 in Washington.

Last week, the Redmond City Council voted to stop using the cameras.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the cameras saved 159 lives from 2004 to 2008 in the 14 biggest U.S. cities with cameras, and would have saved 815 lives if all large cities had been using them.

But a recent report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group said the cameras may deter more proven safety measures, such as providing longer yellow lights.

Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or jbroom@seattletimes.com

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