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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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Why Speed Safety Cameras?

The need for fixed speed Safety Cameras in Portland

Speeding is a top contributing factor to deadly crashes across the Portland region

When people travel faster, the risk of death or serious injury rises dramatically when crashes occur. As noted in Portland's Vision Zero Action Plan and the diagram below, a person walking struck by a person driving 40 mph is eight times more likely to die than one struck by a person driving at 20 mph.

The economic and societal costs of deadly crashes are immense. The CDC estimates the costs of lost work and medical expenses due to traffic deaths in Oregon to be $422 million a year. The National Safety Council pegs the cost of traffic fatalities and injuries to be $150 million a year in the City of Portland alone.

The City of Portland has joined cities across the country in embracing Vision Zero – the notion that the death of even one person on our roads is one too many. Vision Zero proposes that traffic deaths can be prevented through smart policy and system design. Such new thinking is needed, because the number of people killed on Portland roadways has remained stubbornly flat for the past 20 years. In 2015, 37 people died in traffic crashes in Portland, more than the number of homicides in the city.

Controlling speed on Portland’s High Crash Network

The City of Portland designates its most dangerous streets as High Crash Network corridors. These streets, just 8% of Portland’s street network, account for 57% of traffic deaths. Most High Crash Network corridors are high-volume, multi-lane arterials, which suffer a serious crash rate 4.3x higher than that of the region’s freeway system

Portland’s High Crash Network corridors often cut through neighborhoods where residents have few transportation options. The poorest Portlanders with the fewest transportation resources often have to cross our busiest, fastest roadways to get to school or access transit. As Governing Magazine has noted, your chances of being struck and killed as a pedestrian are 2.3x higher if you live in a high poverty area of Multnomah County.

  City Deaths per 100,000 people
Seattle 2.5
Boston 2.6
New York 3.0
San Francisco 3.4
Washington D.C. 3.9
Chicago 4.3
Portland 4.5
2014 data sources: Seattle DOT, NYC Vision Zero, Vision Zero Coalition, Portland Police Bureau, Illinois DOT, L.A. DOT, Texas DOT, Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, NHTSA

Speeding and aggressive driving are the top contributing factors to serious crashes across the region. More than 100 jurisdictions across the country used automated speed enforcement to combat dangerous driving behaviors.  

What other communities are doing to address these challenges

Many cities with safer street systems (notably Seattle, Chicago, Washington D.C. and New York) are successfully using speed safety cameras. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that photo radar systems reduce crashes in the range of 20 to 25 percent.