Mind your speed: Automated traffic enforcement arrives in Prince William Thursday

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The Prince William County Department of Transportation will begin rolling out the Automated Traffic Enforcement Pilot Program in several school zones across the county Thursday.

County officials say the aim of the program is to improve the overall safety and well-being of the public by reducing the number of severe injuries and fatalities on local roads, according to a news release.

The initial school zones where automated enforcement will be deployed include:

Route 15 – Battlefield High School

Old Bridge Road – Woodbridge High School and Old Bridge Elementary School

Benita Fitzgerald Drive- Fitzgerald Elementary School

Kettle Run Road – Patriot High School and T. Clay Wood Elementary School

Additional school zones will be coming online over the next few months.

The pilot program will start with an initial 30-day warning period at each location, during which drivers speeding in an active school zone will only receive a warning.

After the 30-day warning period, drivers speeding in the school zones will receive a $100 fine. The citation will not impact driving records, demerit points or insurance premiums.

Variable message boards will be in place at each school zone at least one week prior to activation to notify road users of the changes as deadlines approach.

Last year, the Board of County Supervisors authorized the pilot program to trial the automated enforcement of speed limits in active school zones, highway work zones and at red lights. It is anticipated that cameras in work zones and at red lights will be coming later this year.

The initial school zones were chosen to evaluate the effectiveness and safety benefits of automated enforcement and are distributed across the county in school zones representing varying schools and road conditions. The information gathered by the pilot program will be compared to speed data already collected at the locations.

“We have before data, and we will collect data afterwards to compare and see if speed has decreased in these school zones,” Richard Weinmann, Prince William Department of Transportation traffic safety engineering manager, said in the release.

The warnings will be sent to the registered vehicle owner by mail. The citations will also arrive by mail with a link to a webpage that is unique to each citation. The citations will include the vehicle’s recorded speed, the time and date of the infraction and an image of the rear of a vehicle speeding in the school zone. The images of the speeding vehicles in the school zones are taken from behind to protect driver privacy, and no information on vehicles adhering to the speed limit will be recorded, county officials said.

“State code prohibits us from recording any personal identifying information,” Weinmann said. “So, all the images are taken from the rear so we can’t see who was driving the vehicle. All we can see is that a vehicle with this license plate went through this school zone at this speed.”

Registered vehicle owners who receive citations will be able to reassign the responsibility for the citation to another driver if they were not driving the car. They will also be able to contest the citations in court.

Information on how to pay or contest a citation will be included in the mailing, which will contain an email address, a website and phone number.

More information about the county’s Automated Traffic Enforcement Pilot Program can be found at pwcva.gov/SafetyCameras.

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