City approves school zone speed checks

Dec. 26—VALDOSTA — The new semester should be much safer for three city elementary schools in light of the city’s approval of a traffic safety camera program.

Greg Parks, senior vice president of RedSpeed, spoke with city officials in October about placing automated speed safety cameras in school zones.

In a traffic study conducted Oct. 28 and the Valdosta Police Department’s 2022 annual school crossing guard report identified Pinevale Elementary School, W.G. Nunn Elementary School and S.L. Mason Elementary as having a higher concentration of pedestrians — and a higher number of traffic violations.

Valdosta Police Chief Leslie Manahan reported to Valdosta City Council earlier this month that Pinevale had an average of 238 children crossing in a day with 129 violations recorded. W.G. Nunn had an average of 150 children crossing per day with 114 violations recorded and S.L. Mason had the average of 215 children crossing a day with 77 violations reported.

“All three of these school zones were identified due to the small age of the children that cross on a daily basis. So what we’re asking is that you approve the agreement of a year with RedSpeed for the speed photo enforcement,” she said.

Manahan elaborated on the background of such speed monitoring, saying in May 2018, House Bill 978 resulted in the official code of Georgia annotated section 40-14-18, titled “Enforcement of speed limit in school zones with recorded images; civil monetary penalty; vehicle registration and transfer of title restrictions for failure to pay penalty” becoming law.

“This allows for speed enforcement in schools by using photography recorded images for the violation, which results in a citation for the alleged violation to be issued to the registered owner of the vehicle … no expense to the City of Valdosta. It provides the speed photo enforcement system, which places the traffic enforcement cameras in the school zones. These cameras identify and photograph vehicles along with their license plate information (that) are alleged to have exceeded the speed limit inside the school zones,” she said.

The cameras would notify police when the speed limit is exceeded by 11 miles per hour during school hours.

“RedSpeed will confirm the citations and then certify it with police officers in the Valdosta Police Department and we will validate the citations before they’re sent out in the mail. All of these citations are a set fine, which is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle, and if a person issued and mailed a citation fails to pay the civil monetary penalty, their information is referred to the Department of Revenue, which will prohibit the renewal of their license plate and prohibit them from being able to transfer their title to someone else. This federal enforcement system will assist the Valdosta Police Department and provide a safer school zone for students who are walking in the area.”

Council unanimously approved the agreement.

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