It only took 17 days for Tigard’s two new traffic enforcement cameras to rack up over 800 citations. And just a few minutes for that city’s mayor to draw a line between this rampant, normalized lawlessness and death.
The new cameras started issuing citations on July 14th at 72nd Avenue and at Hall Boulevard on Highway 99W in Tigard. By July 31st, the 72nd Ave location had snapped 662 potential violators.
At a Tigard City Council meeting on August 11th, Police Chief Kathy McAlpine recounted some of the dangerous behavior behind the numbers. McAlpine said the cameras caught one person doing 74 mph in a 35 mph zone and in more than one occasion drivers have been cited multiple times at the same intersection — including one person who was caught going one way and then caught again on their way back. Another driver was dinged four separate times in the 17 days.
On average, Chief McAlpine estimated people are driving about 14-15 mph over the posted speed limit. To put that in perspective, research shows a person walking is likely to be killed 25% of the time if hit by a driver going 32 mph. If the driver is going 50 mph the risk of death goes up to 75%.
“It’s some pretty blatant driving patterns that we’re seeing.”
— Kathy McAlpine, Tigard police chief
“You have people pretty much disregarding the posted speed limit there,” the chief said. “It’s some pretty blatant driving patterns that we’re seeing.”
This section of 99W has a tragic history with a long record of collisions, injury and death. According to City of Tigard there were 114 collisions at these two intersections from 2012 to 2016.
For Tigard Mayor Jason Snider, a lightbulb seemed to go off as he listened to Chief McAlpine’s presentation. “I want to acknowledge the very profound volume of citations at 72nd,” he commented. “That seems really dramatic. What’s interesting to me about it is we’ve had three pedestrian deaths within a block of that intersection within the past 5 years and I guess we’re starting to see why.”
Bingo. As safety advocates have been screaming to anyone who will listen for many years: Speed kills.
Unfortunately, current state law limits the impact of these cameras. Not only does the law (ORS 810.434) allow drivers to go 10 miles per hour over the speed limit before being cited, but a related statute (ORS 810.436) requires a police officer to sign off on each citation issued in order for it to be valid.
Tigard’s police chief said the stacks of violation records have been a “big heavy lift” for her officers and have accounted for about “half a months worth of work.”
Learn more about the City of Tigard’s traffic camera program on their website.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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