Traffic Division: Photo Radar
1319 SE Martin Luther King Blvd.
Portland, Oregon 97214
503-823-2220 fax

"Sworn to Protect, Dedicated to Serve"

Photo Radar Van
One of our two Photo Radar vans.

Speeding is one of the most frequent complaints to city officials in Portland and Beaverton. In 1995, Portland residents alone lodged more than 700 speeding complaints with the Portland Bureau of Traffic Management and Police Traffic Division. Speeding in neighborhoods and school zones compromises the livability and safety of neighborhoods. It makes playing outdoors hazardous to children, it increases background noise due to vehicles, and it makes walking, bicycling, and driving dangerous for all.

Program Goals and Objectives
The photo radar demonstration project, which began in January 1996, tested photo radar's effectiveness as a speed enforcement tool. The four primary objectives of the demonstration project were to:

1. Evaluate public acceptance of photo radar as a speed enforcement tool;
0. Determine if photo radar effectively controls speed on residential streets and in school zones;
1. Evaluate the administrative process, including citation issuance, delivery and adjudication. Assess the impact on police and court operations as well as the fiscal impact of the program;
2. Suggest design or planning changes that might reduce traffic congestion on residential streets or use of such streets as thoroughfares.
3. Portland and Beaverton strictly adhered to the requirements of the legislation. A project team representing government and residents created a unified set of policies and procedures that reinforced the projects' legislative requirements. The Cities also took steps to make drivers aware that photo radar is one tool police use to enforce speed laws including an extensive public information campaign in December 1995 and January 1996.

Photo Radar Technology and Citation Processing
Photo radar consists of a narrow beam, low powered Doppler radar antenna aimed across the road, a high speed traffic camera and flash unit, and a computer that records the date, time, speed and location of the violation. The system is mounted in a police vehicle that may move to any school zone or neighborhood with a speed related problem. A reader board in the back window of the police unit displays the vehicle's speed to the driver.

The officer operating the equipment evaluates each location to determine the appropriate speed threshold at which to issue citations. In determining this threshold, officers consider posted speed, weather, time of day, and normal speed patterns. The camera photographs all vehicles exceeding this threshold. The officer does not operate photo radar for more than four hours a day in any one location.

The Cities lease the photo radar vehicles and equipment from a private vendor, who is also responsible for processing the film, identifying the registered owners from Motor Vehicle Services (DMV), and printing citations for signature by the officer who witnessed the violation. Citations are mailed within six business days of the violation and the citation recipient has 30 days to respond. Photographs are not mailed with the citation.

A person receiving a citation has three options: pay the fine, request and attend a court trial, or complete a certificate of innocence. The registered owner may submit a certificate of innocence with a copy of his or her drivers license only if he or she was not the driver at the time of the violation. Once the registered owner submits a certificate of innocence, the court dismisses the citation.
Photo Radar: Demonstration Project Evaluation
Portland and Beaverton received authority from the 1995 Oregon State Legislature to conduct a two-year test of photo radar.