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Are Traffic Cameras Right for Mukilteo Speedway?

Tom Jordal

The City of Mukilteo is considering adding traffic cameras at the north end of Mukilteo Speedway. The three locations being considered are nearby:

  • Rosehill Community Center
  • Olympic View Middle School
  • 92nd Street Park

The cameras are being considered to address the problems of speeding and noise on Mukilteo Speedway, primarily leaving the waterfront heading south on Mukilteo Speedway. Local residents have long endured the noise of vehicles accelerating up the hill on Mukilteo Speedway.

The City and Council will be discussing the traffic camera proposal at the November 27th  Council Work Session and December 4th Council Meeting. Note that public comment is only allowed at the December 4th Council Meeting. Both are held starting at 6 p.m. at Mukilteo City Hall located at 11930 Cyrus Way.

I welcome your insights and opinions on this proposal to help the City and Council make informed plans and decisions.

The Traffic Study Data

A study conducted over two weeks this summer and fall determined the speeding problem to be significant. At Rosehill, 14.6% of all southbound traffic was going 11 mph or more over the speed limit, with 2% of all cars exceeding the speed limit by 20 mph. In the school zone, where the speed limit is 25 mph when lights are flashing, 78% of all cars exceeded the speed limit. Near 92nd Street Park, 13-23% of all vehicles headed north were speeding by 11 mph or more. This equates to a combined annual rate of nearly 1,000,000 speeding incidents in these three areas.

The Mukilteo Police Department does its best to control traffic in these areas, but with a limited number of officers on duty at any given time, they must prioritize the most urgent and pressing calls which limits their time for traffic control.

What Camera Data is Captured

The proposed cameras will take pictures of vehicles that exceed the speeding threshold during designated periods of time. The cameras near Byer’s Park and 92nd Street would be triggered by drivers exceeding the speed limit by 11 mph during park opening hours. The camera near Olympic Middle School would be triggered by drivers exceeding the limit by 6 mph when the school zone lights are flashing. The cameras are inactive unless triggered by vehicles exceeding these speeds.

The speeding vehicle and its license plate are captured while the driver and any visible passengers are blacked out from the video. This data on speeders is transmitted from a private company, which operates the cameras, to the Mukilteo Police. The police then review the video and driver data and issue a ticket. The ticket issued is considered a parking infraction and does not affect a driver’s insurance rates.

Expected Benefits to Traffic Cameras

The expected benefits of installing traffic cameras in these specific locations are simple and relatively predictable based on data from the many cameras already in use in Washington State.

Drivers learn that they need to abide by the speed limit, or they receive a ticket in the mail. This motivates drivers to accelerate more slowly as they proceed up the hill, which lowers their speed and reduces their engine noise.

Historical data shows that 96% or more of drivers change their driving behavior and adhere to the speed limit, although the full change can take two to three years. Installing traffic cameras at the north end of Mukilteo Speedway will reduce speeding and noise, making the road safer and the neighborhood more peaceful.

Addressing Traffic Camera Concerns

Mukilteo residents have brought up several concerns regarding traffic cameras. I would like to address each of the concerns that I’ve been made aware of here and share my thoughts on them.  

In full disclosure, some of these concerns come from my family and friends, and I’ve been direct in my responses to them.

(1) Many people don’t want to get caught for speeding unless there’s a policeman involved. They think it is unfair to use technology as they are not allowed to use counter-technology. Some described it to me as a game of cat and mouse and that camera technology is unfair. This is a very honest response, but even those making it realize it’s not defensible and a bit absurd. It is important to adhere to the speed limit even when no one is looking, especially when children may be present.

(2) Some say it’s unfair to expect drivers to change their behavior with no warning. During the first month of operation, the system will issue a warning citation. There are speed limit signs, speed indicator signs and school zone warning signs on the Speedway and the City is considering placing additional speed indicators to alert drivers who are speeding so they can slow down.

(3) There are those who are concerned Government surveillance can be used to track people’s movements and stifle gatherings of groups they oppose. The traffic cameras are operated by a private company and only send information on speeders exceeding the thresholds to the police. The police cannot request information about any other vehicles without a search warrant just as they would for any other private video camera recordings.

(4) Some people fear the cameras may be intentionally or unintentionally adjusted to give tickets when people aren’t actually speeding. The camera system will be calibrated annually to make sure it is accurate.

(5) There is a concern that traffic cameras increase accidents. The data that has led to this idea comes from the study of 531 traffic cameras installed in England some years ago. In 21 of these locations, accidents did increase. However, in the rest of the 510 locations where cameras were installed, accidents stayed the same or decreased.

(6) Residents may be concerned they can’t protest a ticket. There is a simple online tool available for explaining extenuating circumstances.

(7) Some people object to traffic cameras because they consider them a government “money grab”. Traffic fines will generate revenue to cover the costs of the third-party camera operator, and any remaining funds will be split between Washington State and Mukilteo. It will be up to the City and its Council to craft rules and direct the use of funds to align with the proposed intention of changing driver behavior.

Commentary by Tom Jordal, Mukilteo City Councilman

DISCLAIMER: The views and comments expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Lynnwood Times nor any of its affiliates.

8 thoughts on “Are Traffic Cameras Right for Mukilteo Speedway?

  • I’ve been pondering this for a few days and my greatest objection is that this is a THIRD PARTY company. This will only “benefit” the community once they make their money, not just once, but annually. This company likely isn’t local, so won’t even provide jobs within the community, doesn’t care about our community beyond $$$. I think we can do better and create something better.

  • I’m for them. If I don’t speed then they won’t affect me. If I do speed then getting a citation will MOST DEFINITELY discourage me from doing it again.

  • Dear Residents of Whidbey Island,

    We no longer care if you are perpetually running late for your ferry. Leave work earlier next time.

    Mukilteo Residents

    P.S. No, I cannot warp spacetime to teleport through the traffic in front of me no matter how aggressively you tailgate.

  • When I drive in Lynnwood I make sure I don’t run yellow traffic lights because their cameras will take a picture of your vehicle license plate and the City will send you the ticket. So to avoid the ticket, I slow down. This is called changing the behavior. It’s incentive to not have to pay the ticket.
    Once the cameras and additional signage are in place in Mukilteo, behaviors will change for a similar reason. And Mukilteo will be a safer place!
    I’m for them!

  • This is purely a regressive tax disguised as a safety measure to generate hundreds of thousand in revenue for the City of Mukilteo. How many deaths or traffic accidents have occurred at these specific locations to justify having cameras? These cameras will not reduce speeding; but will shift speeding to other areas in the town where there are no speed cameras. Mukilteo Police do a fine job of traffic enforcement already in a town of 21,500 people. This is government outreach and Mukilteo voters have already voted against a similar initiative. Why is the Council circumventing the will of its electorate by pushing ordinances without public input or vote?

  • I think the speeding tax is a wonderful way for the city to generate some additional income. Hopefully the extra income generated can be used to redesign the road in such a manner to make speeding less comfortable.

  • Good, they need to do something about fast driving on the Mukilteo Blvd., from the beginning to the end…the whole way. People drive too fast, way over the speed limit.

  • Let me tell you a little secret. There are going to be traffic cameras/speed camera, security cameras, gun fire detection cameras, bad behavior cameras, etc. on every public corner in every city in every state pretty soon. You may have noticed it already in some areas. There will be no law enforcement stops for traffic violations (unless involving crime or directly on-viewed by officer) in the future. Everything is going to be done by camera backed up by AI watching it 24/7. I’m telling you now because you need to prepare yourself and your kids for what’s coming. Everyone is going to be watching everything you do in public. Why? Because it will probably be available on line somewhere.

    I like to joke eventually we might have cameras in every bedroom so we can make sure your doing what you’re supposed to. Reading what you’re supposed to. Saying what you’re supposed to. Raising your kids the way it should be. Will this may be somewhat tongue in cheek really it’s not. UNLESS people stand up to what is going on and stop it in its tracks. PLEASE vote for the candidate you wants to keep government out of peoples lives as much as possible. Thanks for reading.


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