Adjustments to School Zone Ticketing Hours
Just before Thanksgiving, the City of Vidalia announced that it is adjusting the times when automated photo enforcement of speeding in city school zones occurs. The adjustment was made effective Monday, November 30.
A press release issued November 24 by City Manager Nick Overstreet announced the change and also noted that the City is “currently working with the Georgia Department of Transportation in an effort to align the flashing signal at each school with the times citations are issued. The adjustment of the flashing signal will take place over the next couple of weeks.” The changes will ensure that the flashing lights and the times posted will coincide with each other. Because each sign will have zone times specific to each school, it will take longer to receive these from the DOT. The signs are expected by mid-December.
Overstreet said, “The changes were made based on several reasons. There was not one reason in particular that prompted the change.”
The City Manager explained that the City has applied to the Georgia DOT for permission to control the flashing lights, which are subject to state law since they are located on state routes. Once approved, Vidalia Police Commissioner Brian Scott will assume the primary responsibility for the flashing signals and handle any issues that would cause the signals to need adjusting, Overstreet said. These issues might include time change, signs being hit by a vehicle, or power outages. The flashing signals are controlled via the web. continued from page
Overstreet noted that cameras in the school zones will continue to operate at all times but citations will only be issued during the specific times when schools begin and end. (See schedule below.) The press release advised residents who previously received a notice of a violation in a school zone through Monday, November 23, the last day that school was in session prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, to make the proper arrangements to remit payment. Citations issued through Monday, November 23, will not be canceled, voided, and/or reversed, the press release said. The new enforcement times will consist of the following:
J.D. Dickerson Elementary School – The school day begins at 7:40 a.m. Citations will only be issued from 7:25 a.m. until 8:25 a.m. while school is in session. The school day ends at 2:20 p.m. Citations will only be issued from 1:50 p.m. until 2:50 p.m. while school is in session. The speed during both enforcement times is 25 mph. A citation will be issued if a vehicle is traveling at a rate of speed of 36 mph or higher during school speed zone times.
J.R. Trippe Elementary School – The school day begins at 8 a.m. Citations will only be issued from 7:45 a.m. until 8:45 a.m. while school is in session. The school day ends at 3:05 p.m. Citations will only be issued from 2:35 p.m. until 3:35 p.m. while school is in session. The speed during both enforcement times is 35 mph. A citation will be issued if a vehicle is traveling at a rate of speed of 46 MPH or higher during school speed zone times.
Vidalia High School
– The school day begins at 8:05 a.m. Citations will only be issued from 7:50 a.m. until 8:50 a.m. while school is in session. The school day ends at 3:18 p.m. Citations will only be issued from 2:48 p.m. until 3:48 p.m. while school is in session. The speed during both enforcement times is 35 mph. A citation will be issued if a vehicle is traveling at a rate of speed of 46 mph or higher during school speed zone times.
The times of operation of the school speed zones, 15 minutes before and 45 minutes after the morning school start times, and 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after the afternoon school end times, is set by the DOT.
The automated enforcement in school zones, initiated in August, has kicked up some controversy from motorists who have complained about being ticketed unfairly. A November 4 article in The Advance noted that since the automated machines were activated, over 7,000 tickets had been issued (as of November 2).
Tickets were issued to motorists who were clocked at least 11 miles over the speed limit, said Vidalia Police Commissioner Brian Scott. The commissioner said the margin for error with the automated machines is very low since they are accurate to within .1 mile per hour and the radar is maintained and calibrated on a regular basis.
Those who have received tickets can go online to view the actual video of the violation and still photos are also accessible. The VPD reviews each citation, and persons who feel they have received a ticket unjustly have the right to request their day in traffic court.
The citations are not regular tickets issued by police but by the state with fines being paid through a third party administrator. This administrator receives a percentage of the fines for processing, but the remainder goes into city coffers to be used specifically for law enforcement purposes.
The City Manager said the City Council approved setting up the automated enforcement in February 2019 and the public was provided a 30-day grace period at each school zone prior to the issuing of tickets. The VPD posted information online in an effort to inform the public about how the speed zones would be enforced.
Overstreet said his office has received calls from residents about the speed zones. “Some of them have been favorable with citizens saying they were glad we are enforcing the speed limit in school zones for the children’s safety. But we have had more negative calls than positive.”
The press release noted, “The City of Vidalia’s number one priority is to keep our children safe. Please drive a safe speed at all times.”