Understanding Substitute SSB 5188

SSB 5188

Section 2:

Requires yellow light times at intersections with Automated Ticketing Cameras comply with the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

MUTCD yellow light times are the “minimum” amount of time required to stop. Establishing “minimum” as a standard fails to validate the claims that photo-enforcement programs are for safety.

The companion bill originally contained a provision to to use the MUTCD yellow light time + 1 second but was removed via an amendment with no explanation, demonstrating the incredible power and influence that camera vendor lobbyists have in Olympia.

This provision appears to standardize light times but in reality only standardizes light times at intersections with Automated Ticketing Cameras, causing greater dilemma about when to stop and ensuring rear-end collision will remain needlessly high.

Despite the addition of this provision, there is no mechanism for enforcement and it will likely be ignored to the same extent that current regulations for Automated Ticketing Cameras are regularly ignored.

Section 3:

Instructs the “local legislative authority” to prepare an “analysis” of the locations within the jurisdiction where automated traffic safety cameras are proposed to be located.

Without parameters addressing what constitutes an acceptable “analysis”, this provision allows municipalities to conduct whatever kind of “analysis” they see fit to start taxation by citation. It’s possible that a coin toss might pass as a legal analysis under this provision.

As Rep. Hurst says “red light cameras are like crack cocaine for cities!” Instead of addressing this problem this bill adds a provision that is much like asking a crack addict to determine if he needs more crack. The results will be predictable.

Allows cameras at intersections of “two or more” arterials.

Currently the use of cameras is restricted to “two” arterial intersections. The new provision was likely added to provide legal protection to the municipalities that have collected Millions of dollars ignoring the existing law designed to protect citizens from predatory enforcement.

This is an unjustified expansion of photo-enforcement to the most confusing 5 and 6 way intersections. The confusion over free-right turns and short yellow lights is fully exploited to maximize profits from unsuspecting citizens.

Requires that “signs placed in automated traffic safety camera locations after the effective date of this act must follow the specifications in the MUTCD”

This provision allows the continued use of all existing, substandard signage, despite the effects on safety or the community impact.

Regulates the amount of the fees.

This provision limits the fines to $250. Red light “violations” are currently $101-$124. Since this clearly doesn’t help those who have been complaining about the outrageous cost of stopping slightly over the stop line, we must assume it was recommended by camera vendor lawyers and corporate lobbyists to overcome criticisms that municipalities have been ignoring the legislatures well established intent. Current law RCW 46.63.170 states that citations “shall not exceed the amount of a fine issued for other parking infractions”, an important citizen protection that has been ignored on a wholesale level.