Skip to main content
Twitter YouTube Print E-mail a friend this page Share this page

School Zone Speed Enforcement FAQ

The City Council continued discussing the implementation of school zone photo enforcement cameras at John Muir Elementary/Kamiakin Middle School, and Rose Hill Elementary school during their February 19 meeting. The primary goal of the pilot would be to use the automated enforcement cameras to reduce speeds in school zones thereby reducing the risk of serious injuries or fatalities from collisions. Aside from the goal of traffic safety, the secondary goal of the project is to encourage people to use alternative modes to school, like walking or biking, rather than automobiles. The City Council will consider adoption of a resolution authorizing execution of the vendor contract with ATS (American Traffic Solutions) during their March 5 meeting. The following are answers to frequently asked questions about the proposed pilot.

Why were the locations at John Muir Elementary/Kamiakin Middle School, and Rose Hill chosen for the pilot?
The two pilot locations were chosen based on information regarding traffic volumes, speed data and feedback from traffic enforcement officers.  Based on the data, two schools were recommended as sites for automated traffic safety cameras – John Muir Elementary/Kamiakin Middle School and Rose Hill Elementary. These two locations had the highest traffic volumes and incidents of excessive speed. A second study was conducted in May by an outside consultant that was specifically focused on the time periods before and after school hours when speed restrictions are in place. Over the two study days (May 3 and May 8), 81% of drivers in Rose Hill Elementary study-drivers exceeded the 20-mph speed limit and, of those, 34% exceeded 25 mph in the  school zone. At John Muir Elementary, where overall traffic volumes are higher, 81% of drivers exceeded the 20-mph speed limit and 47% of those exceeded 25 mph in the school zone.

When will the pilot begin?
The pilot is scheduled to begin in September 2019 to coincide with the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. Warnings will be issued for the first 30 days of photo enforcement and then citations will begin.

What times will the cameras be enforcing the speed limit?
Photo enforcement cameras will operate 30 minutes before and after the start of school and 30 minutes before and after the end of school (based on individual school start and stop times). Cameras near John Muir Elementary and Kamiakan Middle School will overlap to allow enforcement consistent with each school’s start and stop times.

Will drivers be warned of speed photo enforcement?
In addition to a public outreach campaign, the City shall clearly mark all locations where automated traffic safety cameras are in use by placing signs in locations that clearly indicate to the driver that he or she is entering a zone where traffic laws are enforced by an automated traffic safety camera.

How much will the fines be?
Council is currently considering establishing the fine for exceeding the school zone speed limit (20 mph) for speeds over 25 mph at $136 per incident. Additionally, a graduated fine is being considered for speeds over 30 mph at $250 per incident.

What if the driver is not the vehicle owner?
The registered owner would need to state, under oath, in a written statement to the court or in testimony before the court that the vehicle  involved was, at the time, stolen or in the care, custody, or control of some person other than the registered owner.

Will buses and City vehicles be subject to fines?
All vehicles, including City vehicles and buses, would be subject to infractions.

How much does the program cost?
The cost of each camera with installation is estimated at $120,000 which is amortized over the 5-year contract period. The contract includes a provision for early contract termination that provides for a recalculation of the payments needed to fulfill the City’s obligation.

How will fines collected from infractions be used? What percentage of fines does the speed camera vendor receive?
State law does not allow speed camera vendors to get a share of the fines. The City will pay a flat amount per month per camera for the lease of the equipment. The fines will go 100% to the City. That revenue will go first to covering the cost of the enforcement program.

Any revenue in excess of the cost of program will go to costs associated with traffic safety personnel and projects in the Transportation Capital Improvement Plan, Neighborhood Safety Program, and Safer Routes to School Action Plans that improve school safety and pedestrian and bicycle safety, including but not limited to, sidewalks, crosswalk improvements, lighting, rapid flashing beacons, bicycle facilities, trails and signage.

Why doesn’t the city do more school zone speed emphasis patrols with police officers?
The Police Department does conduct school zone emphasis patrols and will continue to do so even when cameras are implemented. There are 19 public schools in Kirkland, all of which have problems with speeding to some degree. Kirkland Police have a dedicated traffic enforcement unit who are assigned in the morning and afternoon to school zone safety. At full strength the unit has 5 officers available for school zone emphasis patrols. Unfortunately the unit cannot cover all 19 school zones, and when an officer is writing a citation for one offender they are not able to deal with others. In addition, these officers can often be called away to more urgent 911 calls. Adding more dedicated traffic officers would be difficult to sustain financially. New officers also take a long time to recruit and train. Cities nationwide struggle to find qualified applicants for police positions. Our police strategic plan recommends using technology to expand officer capacity. The school zone speed cameras do not replace officers, but supplement their efforts so that more school zones have regular speed enforcement. As proven in other jurisdictions, cameras cover their own cost through the fines paid while increasing compliance and safety. The Council has directed that any revenues beyond operating costs be dedicated to traffic safety and school safety projects and cannot be used be used for other purposes. This restricted use of the funds will be included in the adopting ordinance. The pilot project starts at two schools with high volumes and persistent speeding problems. If successful at increasing safety by reducing speeding, use of cameras can be extended to other school zones, enabling officers to more frequently do speed emphasis patrols at other sites.

What are next steps for the City Council?
The City Council is scheduled to adopt a final ordinance authorizing the use of cameras and a resolution setting fees at the March 5 City Council meeting. 

Who should I contact for more information or comments? 
Please contact Communications Program Manager Kellie Stickney at kstickney@kirklandwa.gov or (425) 979-6562 for more information.

Police Department
11750 NE 118th St, Kirkland WA 98034

General Inquiries
Email: police@kirklandwa.gov
For police, fire, and emergency medical services, call 9-1-1
Non-emergency incident: 425-577-5656