The City of Lynnwood’s red-light cameras are not going anywhere soon.
As of March, the city has extended its contract with Arizona-based American Traffic Safety (ATS) for another five years. The contract authorizes the photo enforcement program at intersections and school zones.
The contract is based on a cooperative contract also awarded to the City of Seattle, meaning that Lynnwood receives the same pricing and terms.
Since 2006, 16 cameras have been installed throughout the city to monitor drivers’ adherence to traffic laws and capture photos of violators. Citations are issued following a review of alleged violations by members of both ATS and the Lynnwood Police Department, said Lynnwood Public Information Officer Julie Moore.
An ordinance approved by the Lynnwood City Council authorized the installation of the traffic cameras following multiple complaints from the public who cited safety concerns, Moore said.
“People were saying this is a problem and we need to do something,” she said.
Lynnwood Traffic Engineer Paul Coffelt said before the photo enforcement program was administered 12 years ago, he recalled receiving consistent complaints about drivers running red lights at 196th Street Southwest/Highway 99, 196th Street Southwest/44th Avenue West and Alderwood Mall Parkway/184th Street Southwest intersections. He said that since the implementation of the program, data collected by the Lynnwood PD — which administers the program — has shown that collisions due to red-light violations have not only been reduced at intersections with cameras, but at all Lynnwood signals.
“This benefit has been termed the ‘halo effect’ and it is real,” he said.
In 2018, the 34,000 red-light camera tickets that were issued generated $3.4 million in gross revenue for the city. Per the agreement, the vendor received $600,500 from the program, leaving $2.8 million for the city’s general fund, Moore said.
The red-light cameras have been the subject of some controversy in the past. In 2010, the Everett Police Department conducted an investigation into actions of Lynnwood PD leadership with ATS but did not did not find any evidence of unethical behavior.
Some citizens have also been critical of the red-light cameras, saying the timing for yellow lights have been adjusted to change to red faster than usual, allowing for the cameras to unjustly photograph vehicles.
“That’s just not true,” Moore said. “It’s based on a mathematical formula that considers speed and distance.”
–Story by Cody Sexton