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After 251 people died last year in wrecks involving a speeding driver, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is deploying speed cameras to slow drivers down. "We can’t allow this carnage to continue," he said.
With traffic-related deaths hovering at historic levels, Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday called for deploying more speed cameras on state roads to slow drivers down and save lives.
Citing experience from his recent trip to Europe, he said drivers will ease off the gas as soon as they know they are traveling in the vicinity of the cameras.
“When people see a sign, ‘Speed Camera Ahead’, they slow down,” he said in an interview.
Lowering speed limits and ramping up enforcement aren’t necessary, in the governor’s view.
“You don’t need it,” he said. “That’s the beauty.”
Inslee spoke shortly after a meeting in which he received updates on state agency initiatives to reduce the number of people killed on streets and highways and to improve the skill level of drivers and motorcyclists with better education.
Washington recorded 750 traffic deaths in 2022, the most since the early 1990s, according to data presented by the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission.
Of the total, 339 fatalities involved an impaired driver, one fewer than in 2021. Crashes in which speed was a factor claimed 251 lives in 2022, a nearly 20% increase from the prior year.
State lawmakers acted two years ago to allow expanded use of speed cameras in more areas of cities such as school zones and around parks. A law signed by Inslee earlier this year will soon allow for the cameras in construction zones.
In states where cameras are deployed in greater numbers on highways, research shows they lower speeds substantially, officials told Inslee.
In Washington, it could reduce speed-related crashes in which someone is seriously injured or killed by roughly a third, John Milton, director of transportation safety for the Washington State Department of Transportation, told the governor.
“I think Washingtonians understand that cameras are almost ubiquitous in our life,” he continued. “We ought to have speed cameras and we ought to put them to work and we ought to save hundreds of lives. The fact we’re not doing that frankly is a little frustrating right now. We can’t allow this carnage to continue when we have the technology that works.”
A top policy advisor to the governor said they would be developing options to present to lawmakers for the 2024 session.