Chatham Co. police prepare to activate school zone speed cameras

Back To School

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Chatham County Police Department (CCPD) on Thursday announced plans to begin using school zone speed cameras located near several area schools.

The CCPD says the use of the cameras is all in an effort to increase the safety of high-traffic areas near schools.

According to Chief Jeff Hadley, traffic studies by the department showed a need for greater speed enforcement in school zones.

“Two thousand cars a day were going 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit in a school zone,” Hadley said. “We’d like to reduce that. We’d like to reduce it to zero if we could.”

The cameras will be activated on Monday, Aug. 16, in school zones around Georgetown K-8, May Howard Elementary, Coastal Middle and Marshpoint Elementary schools and St. Andrews School. 

The cameras will be activated one hour before the start of school, will remain active throughout the school day, and until one hour after the final school bell.

CCPD says warning tickets will be issued for the first 30 days, and citations will be issued beginning Sept. 16, to give drivers time to get used to the new system.

“Considering the pandemic, kids are going back into school, so there’s gonna be a high traffic volume in those areas,” Hadley said. “Them understanding that they are being monitored for their speed, hopefully, they’re cognizant of that; reduces the speed, makes it safer for everybody.”

Officials say signage will alert motorists to the cameras, giving them the opportunity to correct their speed before entering the enforcement zone.

Drivers will not be issued a ticket until they are going more than 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. 

A CCPD officer will review each violation before a citation is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. The citation information will include a picture of the vehicle, tag and the speed the vehicle was traveling.

The ticket is a civil issue and will not take any points off of a license, but will result in a fine. The fine is set by state law and is $75, plus a $25 processing fee for the first offense. Any subsequent offenses will carry a fine of $125, plus a $25 processing fee. Motorists will pay the fine online and will also have the opportunity to appeal the citation to a judge.

“I never want to have to tell a parent that their child has been hurt or killed by a speeding driver in a school zone. We hope these cameras will lead to a new awareness among drivers and change potentially deadly behavior,” said Hadley.

The cost of the cameras is being covered by Blue Line Solutions, the company that carries the cameras. Fines will be distributed between the company, the Chatham County Police Department and the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System.

“Speeding in school zones is dangerous to our school families, and something that could be a heightened concern this year with the additional traffic created when the majority of students return to the classroom five days a week,” said SCCPSS spokesperson Sheila Blanco. “We welcome the efforts of our municipal and law enforcement partners in their work to deter speeding around our schools.”

CCPD is looking at expanding to other school zones in the county, according to Hadley.

The department says a speed study found that 92,837 vehicles traveled through the school zones during school hours over a five-day period. During that time, 10,714 speed violations occurred.

“Our hope is that we don’t write any tickets,” explained Hadley, “The goal here is to change the behavior we’ve monitored in a number of school zones in our community.”

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