A PBOT contractor installs a speed safety camera on a high crash corridor. More cameras are coming soon to Portland's most dangerous streets and intersections. Photo by PBOT.
(Oct 5, 2023) The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), in partnership with the Portland Police Bureau, is expanding the city’s use of cameras in traffic enforcement as part of the Vision Zero program to end traffic deaths. Today there are 20 cameras operating and issuing citations (or warnings) in Portland. By the end of 2023, the city’s contractor expects to have at least eight additional cameras operational. Up to 12 more cameras are in design and should be constructed next year.
The bureaus' contractors are installing speed safety cameras, which are mounted to a pole and enforce speed limits. They're also installing intersection safety cameras, which provide enforcement of speed limits and red-light compliance. In addition, some longstanding red-light cameras will be upgraded to enforce both infractions.
Contractors install cameras along high crash corridors and at some of Portland’s most dangerous intersections to reduce dangerous driving behaviors and prevent traffic deaths and serious injuries. In total, the city will soon operate 40 safety cameras throughout Portland.
"With more traffic enforcement, we can send a strong signal that the reckless driving we've all seen in recent years is unacceptable in Portland," said City Commissioner Mingus Mapps, who oversees PBOT. "These cameras are a tremendous supplement to the essential work of our Portland police officers. With more enforcement, and more investment in rebuilding our streets to make them safer for everyone, we can get people to slow down and drive safer."
"With these cameras, we are giving people a strong incentive to slow down and drive more safely," PBOT Director Millicent Williams said. "We have seen a decisive drop in dangerous driving very soon after we added camera enforcement on several high crash corridors, so I am eager to grow this program as quickly as possible. With Vision Zero as our guide, we need a communitywide effort, and we need to use every tool available, if we are to reduce and eventually eliminate traffic deaths in Portland."
Camera enforcement and PBOT's budget
Camera enforcement does not help address PBOT's current financial crisis, the bureau's $32 million annual budget shortfall, and the likelihood of layoffs July 1. By state law, about 70% of the net revenue from citations goes to the state, and most of it to the Criminal Fine Account, which pays for public safety, criminal injury compensation for victims, and forensic services.
Since the speed camera enforcement program started in 2015, it has not generated revenue for transportation, beyond the cost of installing and operating the cameras themselves. Any funds that reach the city are required to be spent on traffic safety programs or improvements.
Delivering traffic safety tools to Portland’s most dangerous streets and intersections
Cameras are operational or coming soon on some of the busiest, most dangerous streets and intersections in Portland, including: 82nd Avenue, SE Foster Road, SE Powell Boulevard, SE Stark Street, E Burnside Street, NE 122nd Avenue, NE Broadway, NE César E. Chávez Boulevard, NE Columbia Boulevard, NE Glisan Street, NE Halsey Street, NE Killingworth Street, NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, NE Sandy Boulevard, and SW Barbur Boulevard. For the full list and updates, visit VisionZeroPortland.com/SafetyCameras.
To give drivers an opportunity to adjust to change, the bureaus at first send warning letters. After the warning period, the Portland Police Bureau and PBOT issue citations. Speeding citations range in fines from $170 to $440. Red-light running citations result in a $265 fine. New signage ahead of all speed safety cameras will warn drivers about the new cameras. Commonly used travel apps also warn travelers about the presence of cameras.
Speeding is deadly and automated enforcement is a proven tool
In a 2018 scientific survey of 400 Portlanders conducted by DHM Research, 75% of respondents expressed support for safety cameras to enforce speed limits on streets with high crash rates. Portland’s speed safety cameras have demonstrated a significant reduction in speeding. A 2020 speed study showed a 94% decrease in top end speeding (11 mph or more over the speed limit) from 2016 to 2020 on all four corridors where PBOT had speed safety cameras installed. Speeding is a top contributing factor to deadly crashes across the Portland region. Traveling at excessive speeds increases the likelihood that a crash will occur and increases the severity of crashes when they do happen. The faster people drive, the longer it takes them to react to and to bring their vehicle to a stop once they have hit the brakes.
For more than 20 years, Portland Police have used cameras in police vans, staffed by officers, to provide speed enforcement, moving them from place to place. PBOT led the effort to change state law in 2015 to allow Portland to also use cameras permanently mounted on posts to provide speed enforcement, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
PBOT leads citywide efforts to achieve Vision Zero, the city’s goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets. With the understanding that all traffic fatalities are preventable, Vision Zero calls for the use of proven safety methods such as photo radar cameras for speed enforcement to reduce speeding -- one of the leading causes of deaths and serious injuries on our streets. Learn more about Vision Zero at VisionZeroPortland.com.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the city’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at Portland.gov/transportation