Following complaints from concerned parents, the Smyrna Police Department will be installing speed detection cameras at three local schools, and hopes to have them operational before students begin summer break.
Cameras will be located at Campbell Middle School on Atlanta Road, Argyle Elementary School on Spring Road, and the King Springs Elementary School K-2 campus on Concord Road.
“The equipment and monitoring are provided at no cost to the city in this violator-funded program,” said Smyrna City Administrator Tammi Saddler Jones before the city council unanimously approved the measure. “The intent behind this program is to change driver behavior in our school zones and to make sure that our children are safe.”
Because the cameras will be “violator funded,” there will not be any long-term cost to the city. The actual installation will depend on receiving permits, though SPD Deputy Chief J.C. Bennett said his goal is to have the cameras operational by the end of this school year.
Once up and running, there will be a 30-day grace period with warnings given out to violators, after which fines will be $75 for the first offence and $125 for subsequent offences. Bennett said that drivers will need to travel at least 11 miles per hour over the speed limit to get a ticket, and that the cameras will only be in use during morning and afternoon times when students are going to and from school. The fines will be civil in nature, similar to a parking ticket, and will not cause points to be added to a driver’s license.
Bennett said there was “overwhelming concern” from parents about speeding cars on busy roads with schools on them, and that a “pervasive problem” was discovered upon further study.
“During our analysis, what we discovered was that there was a pervasive problem of speeding in our school zones,” said Bennett. “An independent study was performed by one of the companies that produced a proposal. In one school day in the span of three hours, there were over 600 violations of vehicles speeding our school zones traveling at a speed in excess of 11 miles an hour over the speed limit.”
Smyrna’s city council unanimously approved a one-year contract with a company called Redspeed for the cameras. Should the program prove successful, the contract will be renewed.
“Big thanks to the Smyrna police department for taking the lead on this. It’s truly an important issue for our parents and our schools,” said Smyrna city councilman Tim Gould.
Haisten Willis is a freelance writer who lives in Smyrna with his wife, daughter and dog. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from California State University, Fresno, serves on the board of SPJ Georgia and even rides a bike when time allows.