Cameras near some Prince William Co. schools catching hundreds of speeders

File photo of sign for school zone speed camera. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

New speed cameras installed in some Prince William County, Virginia, school zones caught hundreds of speeders in the first weeks they were active, according to county data obtained by WTOP.

In January, the county announced plans to install speed cameras in some school zones as part of an automated traffic enforcement pilot program. The goal is to improve safety and reduce injuries and fatalities on the roads, the county said at the time.

Currently, cameras are active in two school zones and they’re being rolled out in a third. Ultimately, the county is planning to install them in eight school zones as part of the initiative.

There’s not enough data to determine any trends, according to Richard Weinmann, Prince William Department of Transportation traffic safety engineering manager. But, anecdotally, drivers are reporting others slowing down near the schools with cameras, he said.

“A lot of people have anecdotally observed or believe they’re seeing slow speeds,” Weinmann said. “And it has definitely brought more attention to those school zones.”

Over a 30-day warning period from March 4 to April 8, the cameras near Woodbridge High School and Old Bridge Elementary, along Old Bridge Road, issued 1,374 warnings. The area has had speeding concerns for a while, according to Weinmann.

“The fact that we are seeing this number of notices going out means that we probably do have that in a good location,” Weinmann said.

“At this point, we can’t really see if it’s changing behavior and trending downwards. We hope that we will see that in the future. It does identify that there’s a need to bring attention to that school zone, and some kind of compliance enforcement is needed at that location.”

The pilot program started when cameras along Route 15/James Madison Highway near Battlefield High School went online Feb. 15. Over the 30-day warning period from Feb. 15 to March 17, 324 warnings were issued.

After the 30-day warning periods, drivers caught speeding in school zones will receive a $100 fine. As of March 31, 64 first notices for violations have been issued.

“Our core objective of this program is to improve safety and awareness in school zones,” Weinmann said.

Another school zone, on Kettle Run Road near Patriot High School and Clay Wood Elementary, was scheduled to become active earlier this month. However, its launch has been delayed, because when workers went to install signs, they discovered “a whole pile of underground utilities that we didn’t know were there,” Weinmann said.

All of the locations for the school zone speed cameras were picked based on police department and school requests for enforcement. They’re located on both sides of the street in a given school zone, Weinmann said.

In July, transportation leaders will report progress to the Board of Supervisors, and ask that they extend the pilot program for an additional year, Weinmann said.

“We will be continuing to roll out those original eight identified locations in the new school year,” Weinmann said.

The initiative, Weinmann said, “is not an enforcement objective. It’s a safety objective.”

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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