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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane’s speed cameras turn on Tuesday with the start of school

A set of flashing lights and a speed limit sign warns drivers that the area of North Nevada Street is a 20 mph school zone during certain hours of the day. A speed camera system hangs on a post a long block north of the school on North Nevada Street. Photographed Thursday, May 13, 2021. The camera enforcement system was placed there to slow cars when students are coming and going from Longfellow.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane’s eight photo-enforced speeding cameras, all of which are located near public schools, will turn back on Tuesday for the first day of the school year.

The cameras are in effect during the school year and the 20 mph speed limit is typically enforced during a half hour before and after the school day. Fines for speeding 8 mph or more above the posted speed limit when lights are flashing range from $217 to $450.

More than 20,000 speeding tickets were issued last year by the cameras, according to the Spokane Police Department. In 2021, fines totaled over $4.2 million. Revenue from speeding cameras and red light cameras in the city go to a dedicated fund for traffic calming infrastructure, which currently cannot be tapped for other expenses.

Local drivers are reminded not to speed in school zones and to yield to people crossing streets. Most vehicle-pedestrian collisions occur in crosswalks, marked or unmarked, according to a news release from the Spokane Police Department. All intersections are considered legal crosswalks, regardless of whether they are marked.

Three new school-zone cameras were installed late last year: one at Roosevelt Elementary and two covering Ferris High School and Adams Elementary. The others are located near Lidgerwood Elementary, Finch Elementary, Ridgeview Elementary and Willard Elementary.

Though the police department was not immediately able to provide data showing the speeding cameras have improved safety in the area, the effect is noticeable, said department spokeswoman Julie Humphreys.

“We feel confident saying without data that it is helpful for a certain population of people: those who know there are cameras in the area and slow down, and those who are ticketed and don’t want that to happen again,” she said.

Humphreys pointed to recidivism rates, arguing they were relatively low.

“If you get one citation, you might get another,” she said. “But by the time of the second, the chance of recidivism is very low. It’s way down to 1% or lower by the third one.”

More cameras may be coming soon. The Spokane City Council has taken steps to install a dozen or more additional speeding cameras around parks and hospitals.

Unlike with the speeding cameras in school zones, Spokane would only receive a portion of the fines from those near parks and hospitals.

When the state Legislature earlier this year approved the expansion of automated speeding cameras around parks and hospitals, it also required that cities hand over 50% of the fines to the state’s own traffic safety fund.