The new traffic cameras will automatically ticket drivers who illegally block crosswalks and intersections.
Seattle (April 4, 2022) – On Wednesday, April 6, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Seattle Police Department (SPD) will turn on the first ‘Don’t Block the Box’ traffic camera located at 4th Avenue and Battery Street. The new traffic camera will take photos of cars that are illegally blocking crosswalks and intersections. These cameras will help improve public safety, reduce congestion, keep transit moving, and improve mobility for people with disabilities. The new traffic cameras will photograph the license plates of vehicles violating the law. The first time someone is caught they will be mailed a warning letter. For any new violations after that, they will be mailed a $75 ticket. All locations have clear signs and pavement markings, with white lines indicating where the intersection “box” begins. The City will continue to turn on cameras at three remaining busy intersections – 4th Avenue at Jackson Street, 5th Avenue at Olive Way and Westlake Avenue at Valley Street – to help prevent people driving from blocking crosswalks and intersections after the light turns red (also known as “blocking the box”). It is illegal for drivers to enter an intersection unless they have a clear path to make it all the way through. This behavior is illegal and dangerous, increasing the risk of crashes and preventing people in crosswalks from safely crossing the street. This is especially dangerous for people with disabilities, as people who are blind, use wheelchairs, or have other mobility needs can get stuck in harm’s way in the middle of the street with no safe way back to the sidewalk. Blocking the box also increases congestion, preventing people from moving and bringing traffic to a standstill. The remaining ‘Don’t Block the Box’ cameras will be activated gradually in order to test the system in each location and give the public time to adjust to the changes. A full list of camera locations and their status is available on this blog post. In addition to the ‘Don’t Block the Box’ traffic cameras, the City of Seattle has activated transit lane enforcement cameras this past March in all five locations: Aurora Avenue N at Galer Street, 3rd Avenue at Stewart Street, 5th Avenue at Olive Way, 1st Avenue at Columbia Street, and 3rd Avenue at James Street. The cameras monitoring violations of bus-only lanes help prevent people from illegally driving where they are not allowed. This helps keeps buses moving, which in turn makes our transit system more reliable, benefiting everyone. Buses move more people at a time than individual cars, and every person taking a bus means one less car on the road, which is an incredibly important way to help address congestion and climate change for everyone. The transit lane and Block the Box cameras are in eight locations in downtown Seattle, South Lake Union, Belltown, Pioneer Square, and State Route 99. These locations were chosen based on their history of problematic and ongoing violations of people blocking the intersection or driving in the transit lane. The Washington State Legislature authorized the use of cameras to enforce bus lane and intersection violations in 2020. SDOT announced the camera locations and began installing signs in November 2021 to make sure people had time to learn the rules of the road and avoid receiving tickets. SDOT has published this announcement in 10 languages, and will continue to share reminders on social media, with community-based organizations, and through public service announcements. Under state law, half of the net revenue from the traffic cameras will go to a Washington Traffic Safety Commission fund for bicycle, pedestrian and non-motorized safety projects, and the other half of the net revenue must be used to build safety and mobility improvements for people with disabilities in Seattle. SDOT plans to invest this in building more accessible walk signals which vibrate and make a noise to let people with limited vision or hearing know when it is safe to cross the street. The cameras will work like photo-enforcement cameras in other parts of Seattle which issue tickets for red light violations or speeding in school safety zones. This will mean fewer police officers making in-person traffic stops, so that police can focus on other public safety needs. This also makes enforcement more consistent, objective, and fair. To protect privacy, the cameras will only record vehicle license plates and not the people inside the car. The photos are only intended to be used for enforcing the bus lane and blocking the box laws, and are not intended for other law enforcement action.
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Seattle Department of Transportation
700 5th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104