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800 citations in 17 days: Tigard mayor connects dots from speeding to traffic deaths

Posted by on August 31st, 2020 at 2:56 pm

Site of a “profound volume of citations” says Tigard’s mayor.

It only took 17 days for Tigard’s two new traffic enforcement cameras to rack up over 800 citations. And just a few minutes for that city’s mayor to draw a line between this rampant, normalized lawlessness and death.

The new cameras started issuing citations on July 14th at 72nd Avenue and at Hall Boulevard on Highway 99W in Tigard. By July 31st, the 72nd Ave location had snapped 662 potential violators.

At a Tigard City Council meeting on August 11th, Police Chief Kathy McAlpine recounted some of the dangerous behavior behind the numbers. McAlpine said the cameras caught one person doing 74 mph in a 35 mph zone and in more than one occasion drivers have been cited multiple times at the same intersection — including one person who was caught going one way and then caught again on their way back. Another driver was dinged four separate times in the 17 days.

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(Tigard PD)

On average, Chief McAlpine estimated people are driving about 14-15 mph over the posted speed limit. To put that in perspective, research shows a person walking is likely to be killed 25% of the time if hit by a driver going 32 mph. If the driver is going 50 mph the risk of death goes up to 75%.

“It’s some pretty blatant driving patterns that we’re seeing.”
— Kathy McAlpine, Tigard police chief

“You have people pretty much disregarding the posted speed limit there,” the chief said. “It’s some pretty blatant driving patterns that we’re seeing.”

This section of 99W has a tragic history with a long record of collisions, injury and death. According to City of Tigard there were 114 collisions at these two intersections from 2012 to 2016.

For Tigard Mayor Jason Snider, a lightbulb seemed to go off as he listened to Chief McAlpine’s presentation. “I want to acknowledge the very profound volume of citations at 72nd,” he commented. “That seems really dramatic. What’s interesting to me about it is we’ve had three pedestrian deaths within a block of that intersection within the past 5 years and I guess we’re starting to see why.”

Bingo. As safety advocates have been screaming to anyone who will listen for many years: Speed kills.

Unfortunately, current state law limits the impact of these cameras. Not only does the law (ORS 810.434) allow drivers to go 10 miles per hour over the speed limit before being cited, but a related statute (ORS 810.436) requires a police officer to sign off on each citation issued in order for it to be valid.

Tigard’s police chief said the stacks of violation records have been a “big heavy lift” for her officers and have accounted for about “half a months worth of work.”

Learn more about the City of Tigard’s traffic camera program on their website.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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On one hand, I’m tempted to say we should install cameras at all the signalized intersections. They clearly are an efficient way to catch speeders and red-light-runners. But on the other hand, in this day and age I find it hard to support anything that could even have the potential to be used for more surveillance…

David Hampsten
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David Hampsten

I wish my mayor in Greensboro NC could connect the dots, she still thinks that any car moving at the posted speed limit is polluting more than a car going as fast as possible, and that pedestrians are getting killed because they are either drunk or distracted with their cell phones. (Severe life-changing injuries don’t count, of course.)

David LaPorte
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David LaPorte

The underlying culprit of this terrible stretch of 99 is that ODOT has 5-7 vehicle lanes designed like a rural highway through a relatively dense suburban commercial corridor on a very busy bus line through low-income areas (Metzger/ Tigard Triangle). There are only about 4 signalized intersections for pedestrians to cross in the mile between 217 and I-5, most of which only have one crosswalk per intersection (the other being “closed”). I cross regularly by bike at 78th/Dartmouth to the bus stop, and the intersection designs are unbelievably hostile to vulnerable road users, with slip lanes and turn signals prioritizing car users. Hopefully the cameras will help, but design is the only thing that will drastically make this road safer. Too bad the Southwest Corridor Light Rail project doesn’t even propose to reduce driving capacity on Barbur/99.

Kittens
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Kittens

I don’t know. Sure it will solve the problem there but people quickly acclimate to the cameras and will just abide the law in that one particular spot. I see this all the time at the speed cam on Marine Drive and 122nd.

It would be more productive if the police were more visible enforcing traffic laws. Right now, it feels like “The Purge”… anything goes. Officers don’t even care if it happens right in front of them.

Jon
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Jon

These are a good start. A few mobile photo enforcement trucks would be great to keep people from getting used to obeying laws only at intersections.

ralph
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ralph

Can they still catch them if they use illegal tinted license plate covers? I rarely see these used in Calif or Wash. but they are all over Oregon. They seem like a hit and run tool to me, as well as radar and toll collection evader device.

Phil
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Phil

This is a step in the right direction, and I hope that many more cities follow Tigard’s lead.

Roberta Robles
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Roberta Robles

Go big or go home! Lower all speed limits in downtown centers to 20 mph MAX!!!

pdx2wheeler
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Deputize volunteers to review those tickets. I’m sure it’s not rocket science, and there’d be a line to help.