Redmond Police Dept responds to questions about Traffic Safety Cameras

Our recent article, Redmond’s Traffic Camera Program Begins February 1 with Warning Period (Poll) has produced a range of responses such as the one below which makes several claims including that traffic camera programs become "more about generating a revenue than about enforcing safety."

Few people realize that most of the companies that provide those cameras provide them for a 'portion of the fees' collected. So, they provide the cameras for free, provided that they set the timers to 3 seconds instead of the standard 5 at stop lights. It becomes more about generating a revenue than about enforcing safety. the companies that provide 'free' cameras will pull the cameras if the city requires them to set the stop light timing back to the standard 5 seconds.

Reader statement via Facebook

We asked the City of Redmond to respond to this statement as well as to the following questions.

  1. Is there a change in the timing of the lights as the reader implies? What timing does the City of Redmond use on the intersections where cameras are installed and have they changed since cameras were installed?
  2. Is the revenue received from citations shared with the suppliers or operators of the camera system?
  3. Is there an agreement with the supplier or operator of the camera system as to how the timing of the lights is to be set?

The following excerpts are from a lengthy response by the City of Redmond Police Department:

...As for Redmond, no, we will not and do not change the times on the yellow lights because of the cameras, they will remain as they always have been.

That said, different lights are set for different times--there is a lot of engineering that goes into figuring out exactly what that length will be, but the non-engineering answer is it depends on the speed limit and sight distance--to enable people a safe distance to enter and leave the intersection.

Revenue generated from fees goes to supporting the safety camera program, which includes the cost of the cameras, court fees, etc.  If there is excess funding from the program, then it will go directly back to safety related programs or services.  However, it’s important to remember this is a pilot program, so it will be reviewed by city council throughout the year and they will make a determination whether it should be continued...

Redmond establishes the minimum recommended yellow interval consistent with standard practices recommended by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). Then, we normally use a slightly longer yellow interval. The ITE formula incorporates a comfortable deceleration rate, but the primary determinant of the yellow duration is the speed of traffic...

The bottom-line to your questions is that the length of the yellow lights do not change at all—that would completely defeat the purpose of trying to create safer intersections.

http://www.redmond.gov/cms/One.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=32889

Hope this helps…

Jim Bove
Redmond Police Department
Community Outreach Facilitator