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Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204

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FAQ: Speed Safety Cameras on High Crash Corridors

Why is Portland focusing on enforcing speeds on specific roads?
Counterintuitively, most fatal crashes in the metro region occur not on the freeway network. They occur instead on multi-lane arterials. These multi-lane and multi-modal arterials suffer a serious crash rate 4.3x higher than the freeway system. Portland is authorized to use fixed speed safety cameras on the most dangerous of these roads - its ten High Crash Corridors - which representing just 3% of the city’s road network but account for 51% of its pedestrian fatalities. These include locations like Outer SE Division between 142nd and 156th, where three pedestrians were killed in 2013 alone.

Doesn’t Portland already have speed cameras?
State law previously allowed photo radar systems to be operated in mobile vans for no more than four hours in one location with a uniformed Police officer present. This resulted in inconsistent enforcement and a “decay effect” – travelers return to speeding once the van leaves. The fixed speed camera system provides more consistent and predictable speed control on Portland’s most dangerous roads.

What if I have a question about a warning or citation I received?
If you received a warning or citation from a fixed speed safety camera and have questions, please call 503-221-0415 or 1-800-799-7082.

Is speeding really dangerous?
Speeding is a top contributing factor to fatal crashes across the Metro region. Traveling at excessive speeds has been consistently linked to higher crash risks. The faster a driver is going, the longer it takes them to recognize a dangerous situation and, once they have hit the brakes, to bring their vehicle to a stop. Portland’s High Crash Corridors have posted speed limits ranging from 25mph – 45mph. If a pedestrian is struck at 20mph, they have a 90% chance of surviving. A person struck by a speeding driver on a High Crash Corridor is more likely to die than survive.

death due to speed

Do Fixed Speed Cameras really make roads safer?
Yes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration completed a survey of automated enforcement around the world and found that fixed speed camera enforcement reduces injury crashes 20-25%. A more recent Cochrane survey found that speed cameras reduced total crashes 8 percent to 49 percent and fatal and serious-injury crashes 11 percent to 44 percent. 

Is this program just setting up “speed traps”?
The statute authorizing Portland to pilot fixed speed safety cameras has robust signage requirements, giving travelers ample information and opportunity to obey the law and avoid a ticket. Before passing a fixed speed camera, drivers will see a sign informing them “Traffic Laws Photo Enforced”, a speed limit sign, and a speed reader board displaying their current rate of speed. 

fixed speed camera signage

What will the typical fine be?
The penalties will be the same as a speeding violation initiated by any other means. The typical speeding citation in Oregon is a Class C violation (11 to 20 mph in excess of the speed limit) resulting in a $160 presumptive fine.

Is this a tool to fix city budget issues?
The purpose of fixed speed safety cameras is behavior change, not revenue generation. The City of Portland will pilot safety cameras on 4 corridors where speeding is resulting in higher rates of serious injuries and deaths. Experience from other communities show that fixed speed safety cameras result in drivers quickly changing their behavior. Seattle’s fixed speed safety camera system saw a 64% drop in the average number of citations per day after two years. Over 2/3 of the traffic fine revenue collected by the program will go to the State of Oregon’s Criminal Fine Account. The statue authorizing Portland to pilot fixed speed safety cameras directs that any amount paid to the City of Portland as a result of this program may be used only for operating and maintaining the fixed photo radar units and for improving traffic safety for all modes.