Traffic cameras around Fife’s public schools have so far captured more drivers speeding through school zones than they did last year.
The city activated the cameras with the start of school last month and has tallied 593 violations so far compared to 427 violations for the same period last year. But the rate will likely level off by the holiday season, as parents and commuters get acclimated to the slower speed limits.
“It’s people getting used to the cameras again,” said Fife Police Chief Pete Fisher.
The speed limit around school zones is 20 miles per hour while school is in session but is 25 miles per hour during the summer break. During the entire year, the camera clocks 3,500 drivers with tickets that range from $101 to $250 depending on their speed.
“The purpose of the whole program is to keep kids safe,” Fisher said. “Ultimately, the goal would be to have zero (tickets).”
School zones in Fife run on Valley Avenue between 54th Avenue East and 62nd Avenue East; 54th Avenue East between 23rd Street East and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks; 58th Avenue East between 23rd Street East and 29th Street Court East; 20th Street East between 54th Avenue East and 62nd Avenue East and 23rd Street East between 54th Avenue East and 58th Avenue East. Cameras are located along 54th Avenue East and 20th Street East.
Fife began using traffic cameras around the city last year after determining that drivers were routinely speeding. A single, five-hour traffic study last year counted more than 1,600 people driving more than eight miles over the speed limit. The city has used red-light cameras for years and sought ways to slow chronic speeders, particularly around schools. Since installing red-light cameras a decade ago, the city has seen a 30-percent drop in car accidents and wanted to see a similar drop in accidents and speeders on roadways around schools. Tacoma, Moses Lake and Lakewood have similar traffic cameras around schools in their cities.
If the volume of speeders doesn’t drop, the police department could step up traffic patrols in those zones as well as conduct a more specific study to develop a plan to slow drivers into obeying the speed limit.