ROSWELL, Ga. — Motorists passing through Roswell school zones had better check their speed.
On Aug. 12, the Roswell City Council unanimously approved an agreement with RedSpeed Georgia to install automated school zone speed enforcement cameras within select school zones.
Earlier this year, the police department selected six school zones for RedSpeed to conduct speed evaluations: Hembree Springs Elementary School, Holcomb Bridge Middle School, Mountain Park Elementary School, Roswell High School, Sweet Apple Elementary School and Vickery Mill Elementary School. The statistics show that in one day, two schools — Hembree Elementary School and Holcomb Bridge Middle School — had over 1,500 cases where vehicles were traveling more than 10 mph over the speed limit in one school day.
“It’s one of the largest traffic complaints we get regarding traffic enforcement in the city,” said Roswell Police Capt. Kyle Ratliff. “This is clearly a safety concern for our students and community.”
From 2008-2017, pedestrian fatalities increased by 35 percent nationwide, even though all other traffic deaths combined decreased by 6 percent over the same period, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association statistics quoted by Ratliff.
And more than half of those pedestrian deaths are on local roads and state highways.
“It’s places where they’re out walking, riding bikes,” Ratliff said. “We know that around school zones, kids walk to school, kids bike to school, they do those activities on a daily basis.”
The Georgia Legislature recently passed HB 978 that allows automated speed enforcement at specific school zones where there is a demonstrated need for safety. RedSpeed conducted traffic studies with the Roswell Police Department to record violations greater than 10 mph over the speed limit to demonstrate the need.
Ratliff added that speed is critical, because it informs how much distance a car will need to stop. A car traveling 35 mph can stop within 95 feet, but a car traveling 55 mph, needs more than 180 feet to stop.
RedSpeed was chosen for the automated school zone speed enforcement cameras because it is a leader in the industry and provides a 45-day video archive that can be used to investigate incidents as necessary, Ratliff said.
RedSpeed’s program will incur no cost to the city as it is entirely violator funded. The organization will install, maintain and operate all of the equipment and software.
Tickets from RedSpeed are a civil infraction and do not put points on a driver’s license. The first offense will cost the driver $75. All subsequent offenses will cost $150.
Usually, there is a $10,000 fee for terminating the program agreement before the agreed upon term, a year. This became an issue at previous Roswell committee meetings, and city staff was able to negotiate a zero-dollar risk agreement with RedSpeed to avoid the fee, Ratliff said.
RedSpeed will provide updated signage in school zones as it installs equipment and will begin the program with a 30-day warning period.
The program works, Ratliff said.
Just last month, Alpharetta city officials launched its own school speed zone monitoring program.
Across the state, police departments are seeing a 60 percent reduction in speeding violations within that 30-day warning period and another 40 percent drop on top of that after the warning period, Ratliff said.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “our goal here is to gain voluntary compliance and to get people to understand that when you’re driving through a school zone, there’s kids, there’s parents, there’s people walking.”