NEW KENT — Speed cameras will soon be installed in school zones across New Kent County to help reduce the problem of motorists speeding.
The supervisory board voted unanimously on Monday to approve the use of the cameras. The cameras would automatically impose $100 civil penalties on owners of vehicles caught driving more than 10 mph over the speed limit.
Traffic studies in existing school zones in New Kent as well as the area of the new Quinton Elementary School have highlighted a speeding problem, Sheriff JJ “Joe” McLaughlin told the council during a briefing. a work session last month.
“We frankly don’t have the manpower to put someone on radar in each of the school zones,” McLaughlin said. He said violators would receive citations in the mail. Drivers who dispute the citations should appear in court with a signed affidavit stating who was driving the car at the time of the violation.
“Then that case can be dismissed against them and action can be taken against the driver of the vehicle,” McLaughlin said. He said civil citations would not affect a driver’s record.
“Any prosecution for such an offense should be conducted in the same manner as prosecutions for traffic violations,” according to a board report.
Greg Hogston of Blueline Solutions, the private company that runs the program, detailed a study that found hundreds of speeding violations occur in New Kent County school zones.
A public information session and a warning period of 30 days would precede the application of the cameras.
“We’re trying to get the numbers down 60 to 80 percent before the first live call is written,” Hogston said.
He said another speed study would be conducted 90 days after the program went live. Data from Virginia and other states show a 90-92% reduction in speed in the first 6-9 months after starting the program.
Hogston said the zones would be marked with a speed limit sign, a school zone sign, flashing lights and radar return signs that inform motorists of their speed. There would be no cost to the county for equipment, installation and operation.
The Virginia Department of Transportation also agreed to lower the speed limit in the Quinton Elementary School area from 35 to 25 mph when the school opens, McLaughlin said.
The sheriff’s office will see the citations before they are mailed, allowing staff to make exceptions in cases such as emergency vehicles driving through areas at high speed.
McLaughlin originally proposed an order that would place speed cameras in school and work zones, but work zones were dropped from the proposal on Monday. The council said the ordinance could be amended at a later date to include work areas.
David Macaulay, [email protected]