Alexandria council OKs speed cameras in school zones

Alexandria’s city council voted Saturday to approve the installation of speed cameras in five school zones throughout the Northern Virginia city.

The council unanimously voted to adopt an ordinance that calls for a civil penalty of up to $100 for driving more than 10 miles above the posted speed limit within a school zone.

The exact location of the cameras is still to be determined after city planners work with police and school officials: “The locations will be selected through a data-driven process that considers vehicle speeds, traffic volumes, number of students walking to school, equity and other factors.”

In 2020, Virginia passed a law authorizing the use of speed cameras in school and work zones. Alexandria joins neighboring Arlington County and the City of Fairfax in implementing speed camera programs.

Citations generated by the automated system will need to be verified by a city police officer before being sent to the car’s registered owner.

Mailed camera tickets will not be deemed a conviction, or be placed in a record that would impact insurance rates. In instances where an officer uses technology to personally write a ticket and present it to a driver, that violation would remain in a driver’s record.

Under the program, a sign would need to be posted within 1,000 feet of the school zone to alert drivers that automated speed cameras are in use.

The car owner can challenge a ticket by filing an affidavit or stating in court that they weren’t driving at the time of the infraction. However, the owner would be expected to provide the name and address of the person who was behind the wheel at the time the camera clicked.

Fines generated by the program would be paid to the city, which says it would not count on revenue from speed cameras — at least initially.

City officials have said vehicle speed is widely recognized as one of the most significant factors in the frequency and severity of traffic crashes.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, higher vehicle speeds correspond with a great potential for loss of vehicle control, a higher stopping distance required after a driver perceives a danger, and an increased degree of crash severity.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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