Serving Franklin County, WA

Lawmakers may reconsider checkpoints

Motorists could see more traffic cameras, too

OLYMPIA – Some lawmakers are reconsidering sobriety checkpoints and automated enforcement cameras in a bid to bring the number of road deaths down in the state.

Traffic deaths in Washington hit a high in 2022, with 750 fatalities, the highest number since 1990, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

And while 2023 statistics are not complete yet, by July 31, 417 people had died on Washington’s roads – on pace to surpass the number of 2022 deaths.

“What we’ve done to date is not having the impact we want,” Transportation Committee Chairman Sen. Marko Liias, D-Everett, said during Thursday’s pre-session briefing with reporters when asked about automated cameras and sobriety checkpoints in known high-ticket areas. “On speed enforcement and automated enforcement, we need to bring the public along with us and move forward slowly and expeditiously.”

That’s due to the fact the Washington Supreme Court has ruled that random sobriety checkpoints are unconstitutional in the state.

Liias said if Gov. Jay Inslee proposes studying some of the more advanced ways to use automatic traffic safety cameras to lower traffic fatalities and show lawmakers the data, that would be worth considering.

“Not to show that it raises revenue, but that it changes behavior,” the senator said.

Speed cameras will be deployed in highway work zones starting this summer.

Red light cameras and school zone speed cameras have been in use on city streets in the Evergreen State for years, but having automated speed cameras on the interstate will be something new.

Senate Bill 5272 – passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Inslee last year – authorizes the use of traffic cameras to enforce speed limits on state roads starting July 1.

Tickets may be issued for violations that occur when workers are present and when speed zones are clearly marked to warn drivers.

“I think we were lucky to get cameras in work zones passed,” said Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, the ranking minority member on the transportation committee. “I think my side of the aisle is not necessarily in favor of putting cameras everywhere.”

The 60-day legislative session began Monday, Jan. 8.


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