Washington State Work Zones To Be Monitored By Automated Cameras

Seattle, Wash. — Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed a new law, Senate Bill 5272, authorizing the use of automated cameras in work zones on state roads. The move comes in response to concerns from labor about drivers speeding dangerously close to crews. The cameras won’t be operational until July 2024, and drivers will receive warning signs before entering work zones where they will be in use. The new authority only applies to Washington State Department of Transportation work zones on state highways.

Under the new law, violators caught on camera will receive a ticket in the mail within 30 days of the alleged violation, and unpaid tickets will be referred to the state Office of Administrative Hearings. The cameras will only be operational when workers are present, and footage can only be used for speed violations. It cannot be used in parallel criminal investigations.

Work zone cameras were part of a broader suite of legislation aimed at making state roads safer. Last year, nearly 750 people died on Washington roads, the highest in over 30 years, and there were five deaths in work zones. Despite the bipartisan support for work zone cameras, other parts of the suite, such as lowering the blood alcohol limit to 0.05% and a proposed ban on right turns on red, have stalled out.

The move toward automated cameras in work zones has come after WSDOT made changes to its work zones to decrease collisions, such as closing additional lanes to create a wider buffer between traffic and the work. Automated camera enforcement has been expanding in the state in recent years. As of last summer, it’s allowed without limit near schools, parks, and hospitals. Cities are also allowed to install a limited amount, determined by population, in areas where other safety efforts have fallen short. Cameras at red lights have been allowed in the state for years.