Salem activates speed-trackers for traffic cameras at 3 more intersections

Virginia Barreda
Salem Statesman Journal

Salem has given the green light to activate new speed-tracking traffic cameras at three intersections.

City officials say the program, which went live April 1, aims to reduce crashes and protect pedestrians at the high-traffic intersections. The cameras, which already activated the red-light photo enforcement back in July, are at the following intersections:

  • Commercial Street SE at Madrona Avenue SE
  • Commercial Street SE at Kuebler Boulevard 
  • Center Street NE at Hawthorne Avenue NE

"Speed plays a major role in motor vehicle crashes, especially those resulting in serious injuries," Salem City Manager Steve Powers said in a release. "Our goal is to improve driver behavior and safety for everyone at high-volume intersections. Changing driver habits will make Salem's roads safer for everyone who uses them."

The program, called Speed on Green, is an addition to the city's current Photo Red Light Camera Enforcement program that began in March 2008 and will eventually run at six city intersections.

The City ran tests for Speed on Green in late 2019 at the intersection of Silverton and Fisher roads NE, which had existing red light camera capabilities.

A previous report by the Statesman Journal found more than 1,100 speeding tickets were issued in October, November and December of 2019 — nearly three times the number of tickets issued to red-light runners at the same intersection in the same three months. 

Since then, the city has issued more than 4,300 additional citations for speeding violations at the Silverton and Fisher intersection through December 2020, according to data from the City of Salem Photo Red Light Program 2021 Legislative Report.

Speed on Green:One new traffic camera caught 1,100 speeders in Salem; two more cameras about to start

The city plans to eventually turn on speed readers at the existing red-light camera locations: Commercial and Marion streets NE, and Mission and 25th streets NE. But the city will have to wait longer to get approval from the Oregon Department of Transportation for speed trackers upgrades because they are state highways, according to Lt. Treven Upkes, a spokesperson with the police department. 

The city will hire two new part-time retired officers — for a total of six officers — to review possible incoming traffic violations, Upkes said, though one officer is planning to retire. 

A bill passed in the 2017 Oregon Legislature allows cities to use red-light camera systems to issue speeding tickets when a vehicle hits 11 mph or more over the limit during green or yellow lights.

It also allows cities to issue joint citations for speeding and running a red light if the speed is more than 21 miles per hour over the limit during red lights.

Drivers caught committing speed or red light violations will get off with a warning over a two-week grace period after April 1, Upkes said. After that, violations captured by the camera system could result in fines. 

Drivers are fined the same amount as if they were issued a speeding ticket by a patrol officer: 

  • Drivers going 11 mph over the limit, but less than 20 mph over the limit —  a Class C violation — are fined $165.
  • Drivers going 21 mph over the limit, but less than 30 mph over the limit — ordinarily a Class B violation —  are fined $265. This is also the penalty for running a red light.
  • Drivers going 31 mph or more above the limit are fined $440

Virginia Barreda is the breaking news and public safety reporter for the Statesman Journal. She can be reached at 503-399-6657 or at vbarreda@statesmanjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at @vbarreda2