Starting in January 2016, speeding drivers may be more likely to get a ticket in Portland, Oregon.
Traffic cameras are set up along streets to catch drivers breaking traffic laws: usually running red lights, or the exceeding speed limits. Radar detects the violation, and uses automatic number plate recognition to send a traffic ticket to the vehicle’s registered owner.
Last week, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed Oregon House Bill 2621 into law. The new law allows the city of Portland to use traffic cameras for speed enforcement on streets with high rates of crashes resulting in serious injuries or fatalities.
Nearly a dozen Oregon cities, including Portland, already use photo radar for speed limit enforcement. But as of January, Portland will be exempt from the restrictions of the current law.
Current law: Speed cameras can only operate for four hours per day in one location. A police officer must be present.
New law: Portland’s speed cameras can run 24 hours a day in fixed locations. Police do NOT need to be present.
Radar aimed at high-crash corridors
If it works as planned, the speed camera program could have a real effect on Portland’s traffic safety problems.
Under the current law, Portland’s radar vans have been issuing record numbers of traffic tickets. Last year, they sent out 33,486 speeding tickets—all of them to drivers travelling at least 11 mph over the speed limit.
Under the new law, cameras will be used on Portland’s “high-crash corridors”: the 10 streets that account for 50% of pedestrian deaths, and 36% of all of traffic deaths in the city. Vehicle speed is one of the biggest indicators of the likelihood of injury or death in a crash.
Police intend to start with 10-20 speed cameras along the high-crash corridors. Drivers will either slow down to avoid a citation – or more speeding tickets will be issued, generating more revenue for the city to improve traffic safety.
The new law correlates to Portland’s adoption of “Vision Zero,” a traffic safety project with the goal of reducing traffic fatalities down to zero. See “Vision Zero”: there’s a big hole in the plan to eliminate Portland traffic deaths.