OLYMPIA – A bill to authorize the use of speed safety cameras in state highway work zones passed the Washington State Senate today on a bipartisan 47-2 vote.

Sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias (D-Everett), Senate Bill 5272 aims to increase safety for workers on state highways.  

“Folks working on our state highways deserve to do so with the peace of mind that they will end their shift by going home to their families and loved ones,” said Liias. “These workers are acting every day to ensure our highways are safe for commuters, and we have a duty to keep them safe as well.”

As traffic fatalities across Washington have increased in recent years, work safety zones have also seen a staggering uptick in collisions and fatalities. The Washington State Department of Transportation reported that in 2021 alone, there were 1,232 work zone collisions – including five fatal crashes.

“In recent years, we’ve seen too many injuries and even fatalities in our highway work zones,” said 14th District Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, and ranking Republican on the Senate Transportation Committee. “Speeding and distracted driving are the main causes of these tragic events. Placing speed cameras in our work zones can be an effective way to deter drivers from causing a serious accident.”

“Our workers are out on highways with just hard hats and safety vests for protection, and every day we hear about more folks that had near misses on the job,” said Billy Wallace with the Washington and Northern Idaho District Council of Laborers. “In the last two years, we have already lost four of our members and had 28 serious injuries in state highway work zones. We need all the help we can get to make sure our folks are safe, and these cameras have proven to be effective at reducing speeding in work zones across the country. I’m grateful to Sens. King and Liias for working with us on this important bill to protect our workers.”

Speed safety cameras are already in use in Washington at locations such as school speed zones, railroad crossings, and more. Revenue generated that exceeds the cost of operations for safety cameras must be used for traffic safety education efforts.

Having passed the Senate, the bill now heads to the House for consideration. If passed in its current form, the bill would go into effect in July 2024.