School zone, red light enforcement cameras could start in Prince William Co. by summer

Red light enforcement and school zone speed cameras could be in place throughout Prince William County, Virginia, by summer.

The Board of County Supervisors has been studying the feasibility of using automated enforcement cameras in efforts to make pedestrians — including school children — safer, and change drivers’ unsafe habits.

Next Tuesday, the board will be briefed on the study, which has measured recent driver behavior in 16 school zones, three construction zones and eight intersections.

Over a five-day period, in school zones, almost 25% of drivers were traveling more than 10 miles an hour above the speed limit. The percentage was 4% in construction zones.

At eight signalized intersections, during a 24-hour period, 6,522 violations were observed: More than 21% drove through intersections after the light turned red, 71% didn’t stop before turning right, and 7% turned left when they shouldn’t have.

Drivers going more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit in school and construction zones would receive a $100 citation by mail, but no points on their driving record. If a police officer on the scene issued the citation, the driver would be fined $132 and get three demerit points on their driving record.

Citations for red light violations would be $50, according to the plan.

In the presentation to be reviewed by supervisors, potential benefits say studies show the county can expect up to 95% compliance at enforcement locations, as well as a long-term change in driver behavior. Cameras would eliminate the need for a stop in moving traffic and other dangerous locations and make police resources available for other community safety activities.

If the board moves forward, the selected vendor would be responsible for installing and maintaining all of the equipment, which would be paid by deducting fees from fines. County police would review, verify and certify each violation before its mailed to drivers.

The county has identified nine initial school zones and eight proposed initial intersections for red light cameras.

Warnings would be issued for 30 days at each camera location before fines are collected.

The one-year pilot program would begin in July or August and have eight school zone cameras in place by the first day of the 2023-2024 school year. The pilot would also have cameras at eight signalized intersections and one mobile unit for use in a construction zone.

The staff report projects $850,000 in local transportation funds would be recovered within the first year of the cameras being operational.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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