School zone speed cameras coming to Fauquier County within weeks

A school zone speed limit sign on Zulla Road, near Marshall Middle School and Coleman Elementary, in The Plains in Fauquier County. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

Speeding in a school zone in Fauquier County, Virginia, will soon cost drivers $100. Starting in January, Fauquier will be the latest county to install cameras and a radar system to automatically issue citations.

Fauquier County Sheriff Jeremy Falls told the county school board Monday, Dec. 11 that cameras will be installed in 12 school zones next month.

Virginia’s General Assembly approved the use of cameras for school zone enforcement in 2020. Most systems in northern Virginia now have them in use.

The Fauquier County Board of Supervisors approved the program in 2021, after a study showed drivers regularly speeding in school zones.

“You have a problem in Fauquier County in your school zones — that’s speed,” said Randy Campbell, a retired Virginia State Police sergeant who now advises Blue Line Solutions, the company that will install and operate the cameras and earn $25 for each $100 ticket issued.

Campbell called the speed cameras a “force multiplier,” which has been shown to reduce speeding without “having deputies camping out” issuing tickets.

“People ask the sheriff, ‘Why don’t you just hire more people and put them out there?” said Campbell. “People aren’t lining up at the door, saying, ‘hire me’ in law enforcement.”

Campbell said speed cameras can draw an emotional response from people.

“The General Assembly has given the driver a speed tolerance — you have a 9-mile-an-hour speed tolerance,” said Campbell. Operationally, he said Blue Line has raised the tolerance to 10 mph.

“So, 11 miles an hour or greater in a Fauquier County school zone, you will get a summons for speeding,” Campbell said, telling school board members he disagrees with those who believe speed cameras are a money grab by overreaching local governments.

“When you get a 10-mile-an-hour tolerance in a school zone, that’s traffic safety,” said Campbell. “That’s as generous as they come.”

No points will be assessed against a person’s driver’s license.

The money generated by the fines will go directly to the county, Campbell told the school board. “There’s no earmark for the funds — the sheriff, the board of supervisors, you guys work that out, to where the revenue comes into.”

Falls said the installation of cameras will begin in January. Once they’re turned on, drivers who exceed the speed limit in a school zone will receive a warning. After the 30 day driver-awareness period, fines will begin to be issued.

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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