Tag Archives: red light cameras

Kitsap County has no plans for red light cameras

The in basket: Phil Shoemaker says he’s “just wondering if red light cameras are in the planning for intersections in Silverdale. Some of the main ones are becoming very hazardous: Silverdale Way and Ridgetop, Randall and Bucklin Hill. Also Kitsap Mall Boulevard and Randall Way. Seems like a good way for the county to benefit financially and keep our roads safer.

The out basket: I don’t share Phil’s appreciation of red light cameras, which seem mostly to capture California right turns (just slowing not stopping when the light is red) which does make things safer for pedestrians in crosswalks. But the cameras do little or nothing for truly dangerous through-traffic red light violations, which I find to be almost imaginary, anyway. I have spent a lot of time watching supposedly dangerous intersections and have yet to see a red light violation that nearly created a collision, let alone created one.

I don’t know if the county shares my gimlet-eyed assessment of the cameras, but I’m happy to report that Jeff Shea, the county traffic engineer, says simply, “We are not considering red light cameras in unincorporated Kitsap County at this time.”

As an aside, I wonder if Californians have a different term for California stops.


Traffic detection at Bethel and Lund avenues


The in basket: Mike DeMinter wrote in August to say, “A couple of days ago I noticed someone is working on the traffic  

lights at the Bethel/Lund intersection in Port Orchard.  Are they also going to reposition the left turn sensor that signifies traffic flow from Bethel onto Lund (towards Jackson Avenue)?


“When Lund was widened a few years ago, a right-turn lane was put in for cars that want to turn onto Bethel and progress towards the bowling alley,” he said. “The creation of the additional lane caused the white line markers on Bethel to be moved back. What was forgotten  

is the left turn sensor mentioned above.  It appears to have been  

left untouched.

“As it stands now, approximately three-fourths of the sensor 

wire is in front of the white line and thus not  usable.


“Consequently,” he said, “cars that want to make a left onto Lund must ‘snuggle up’ to the double-white line in order to be ‘sensed.’  Many times I have had to wait extraordinary lengths of time behind cautious drivers who stop a few feet behind the double white line and wait through several light changes until they finally realize what is going on and move up.”

Belinda Wright has a question about the same intersection. She was reading on the Road Warrior blog at kitsapsun.com  about the limitation on Bremerton’s red light enforcement cameras to only two directions of travel per intersection that they can monitor. 

“What look like cameras have been installed at Bethel and Lund in Port Orchard and it looks like they are pointing in all four directions. What’s up with that?” she asked.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, Kitsap County traffic engineer, without addressing Mike’s interpretation of what led to the problems, says “The traffic control box, which houses the electronics that runs the lights, was recently replaced. Many of the loops in this intersection are beginning to fail.”  

The county has replaced them with the new overhead traffic detection cameras, one for each direction. Those are what Belinda sees on the cross arms, not red light enforcement cameras. Only Bremerton has them and at only a handful of locations. They look nothing like the detection cameras and aren’t on the signal cross arms

The overhead cameras are gradually replacing the in-pavement detector loops because they can be repaired without tearing up the pavement and can remain in service when something else requires digging up the road surface.


Red light cameras mostly catch illegal right turners

The in basket: Mary Bulmer says her neighbor told her his nephew recently got a ticket for making a legal right turn on a red light at an intersection in Bremerton equipped with one of the red light enforcement cameras. She’s heard a lot of people have been ticketed for right turns on red and wonders how that might effect her, particularly at Warren Avenue and Sheridan Road.
The out basket: That intersection is not one that has the red light cameras, but Mary is right that right turners who don’t stop properly before turning on a red light where there is a camera are getting tickets.
In fact, I was surprised to learn from Lt. Pete Fisher of the Bremerton police traffic division that improper right turns are far and away the most often cited infraction caught by the cameras.
The camera at 11th Street and Callow Avenue, for example, between April 7 and May 7, caught violations for which tickets were issued for 146 right turns against the light, 45 left turns and only five through traffic red light infractions.
At Sylvan and Wheaton ways during the same period, there were 57 right turns, 23 left turns and nine through traffic infractions.
Right turns on red remain legal at the camera intersections, but they have to be done correctly. Sgt. Wendy Davis of Pete’s division says that technically requires stopping before crossing the broad white stop bar. But the department is usually waiving a citation for those who cross the stop bar but come to a complete stop before entering the cross street. Exceptions are when the person doesn’t stop until well into the intersection, she said. That often happens when a driver sees the flash from the red light camera and realizes he or she has been captured in a violation.
They waive an infraction in about 10 percent of the times the cameras record a right turn done against the light, she said.
I was glad to hear about that measure of leniency, because I’ve come to realize I almost never stop at a stop sign or red light until I’m across the stop bar if cars ahead of me don’t stop me farther back. Check out Colleen Smidt’s comment below for another perspective on that.
On its face, Pete’s figures seemed to me to validate my belief that the cameras are preying on the turners who run the light, rather than those passing straight through and hence probably moving much faster. They present the only real accident hazard, I have said in the past.
What I forget, Pete told me, is pedestrians. A pedestrian can be badly injured or killed by even a slow moving car, and pedestrians can easily be hit by cars turning against a red light.
“When you see the video, you get a greater appreciation for the hazards these violators are creating for other motorists and pedestrians,” he said. “Both right and left-turn violators threaten pedestrians. We have seen pedestrians shaking their fists or otherwise reacting when there is a conflict.”
The cameras take a 12-second video of each violation as well as two still shots. Those ticketed can go online and see the shots of their violation, but other members of the public can’t.
I was also surprised to learn that no intersection can have more than two directions of travel monitored by the cameras. The law allowing them limits them to two per intersection, and each camera takes pictures of only one direction of travel. He didn’t know why, it’s just the way the law reads.
Also of interest is the fact that someone who ignores and nearly hits a pedestrian in the crosswalk after coming to a full stop behind the stop bar can’t be cited for that on the basis of the photos. They can lead to citations only for red light violations, regardless of whatever else they show, Pete said.