Are speed cameras coming to Fayetteville school zones?

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Fayetteville Police Chief Scott Gray speaks to the Fayette County Board of Education.
Fayetteville Police Chief Scott Gray speaks to the Fayette County Board of Education.

School Board OK with trying speed cameras in 5 school zones; Fayetteville Council will have to approve first — 

Fayette County Board of Education by consensus on Feb. 3, after a presentation by Fayetteville Police Chief Scott Gray on having speed detection cameras installed in school zones in Fayetteville, agreed with Gray to try the measure for a year then re-evaluate. The proposal will go back to the Fayetteville City Council for possible approval.

An informational item on the City Council’s Dec. 5 agenda considered the possible installation of cameras by Blue Line Solutions, LLC to detect speeders in school zones in the city traveling more than 10 miles over the limit beginning one hour before classes begin and concluding one hour after classes end. The next stop for the proposal was to present it to the school board for input.

Gray noted that initiative is funded by Blue Line, with no cost to the city or school system.

Commenting on a question by school board member Leonard Presberg about privacy concerns and if Blue Line would share information obtained from the cameras, Gray said the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) has strict rules on disseminating photos.

Citing an example of what has been occurring in school zones, school board members were told that a speed study conducted at the Lester Road schools from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. during Sept. 9-13, in a 35 mile-per-hour speed zone, showed 14,707 vehicles passing through the area, with 5,178 of those vehicles traveling more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.

School zones in Fayetteville to be considered include the Lafayette Education Center on Lafayette Avenue, Fayetteville Elementary School on Hood Avenue, the former Fayette Middle School on Grady Avenue and Cleveland Elementary School and Bennett’s Middle School on Lester Road.

By consensus, the school board agreed to having the cameras installed, and giving it a year, then re-evaluating it.

“If it doesn’t work, we’ll try to find something else,” Gray said.

Board members noted that if the proposal does work, it might be considered for other school zones in the county.

If approved by the City Council, the equipment will be provided and constructed by Blue Line Solutions in all the city’s school zones with no cost to the police department or anyone else. The equipment used will be a proper signage alerting drivers that they are entering a school zone with reduction in speed. The post will be housing a LIDAR (laser) to obtain the correct speed of the passing vehicles and followed by a camera that will take several photographs of the vehicle, one having a red box indicating where the LIDAR was activated on the vehicle. The second photograph will contain the vehicles registration (TAG) number.

Providing for the installation of speed detection cameras in school zones, House Bill 978 passed and became effective in July 2018 (O.C.G.A 40-14-18). The statute notes that “The speed limit within any school zone as provided for in Code Section 40-14-8 and marked pursuant to Code Section 40-14-6 (dealing with the size and placement of warning signs) may be enforced by using photographically recorded images for violations which occurred only on a school day during the time in which instructional classes are taking place and one hour before such classes are scheduled to begin and for one hour after such classes have concluded when such violations are in excess of ten miles per hour over the speed limit, according to law.justia.com.

Once the violation/image has been captured, it is sent via wireless to BLS located in Chattanooga, Tenn., for the first review. Once a bundle has been reviewed, these violations will be sent to the police department for review a second time. A certified law enforcement officer with the police department will review the violations/images to verify that the vehicle registration (TAG) coincides with the vehicle make and model. After this review, the violations/images are sent back to BLS with an accurate verification. BLS will then mail a civil citation to the vehicle’s registered owner. Ga. law established the fine for these violations at $75 plus a processing fee of up to $25 for the first violation and $125 for a second violation. If a driver contests the violation, the Fayetteville Municipal Court will have a civil court date set aside once a month to hear these civil cases.

By law, Blue Line Solutions will receive 35 percent of the fine money collected.