Speed Machine

By: Ashlyn Hilburn

It is now possible to get a speeding ticket in Richmond City school zones without ever getting pulled over by a police officer.[1] This initiative is designed to improve the safety of people who walk, roll, and bike across streets within school zones.[2] While the implementation of these speed cameras in school zones is relatively new, their approval is not.[3] These cameras were approved by state lawmakers in 2020, and their use was limited to highway work zones and school crossing zones.[4] Up until recently, the use of speed cameras had not yet been implemented in any school crossing zones in Richmond.[5] The city of Richmond looked to a report by the United States Department of Transportation, which stated that speed cameras can reduce crashes by over fifty percent, when determining whether these cameras should be part of Richmond City roadways.[6]

In 2020 the Virginia legislature codified the use of photo speed monitoring devices in highway work zones and school crossing zones under § 46.2-882.1.[7] This statue provides that a sign shall be placed within one thousand feet of any school crossing zone or highway work zone at which a photo speed monitoring device is used, indicating the existence of said speed camera.[8] These devices are not the same as red-light cameras, which are only used at intersections; speed cameras cover multiple road segments.[9] They first use radar technology to detect the speed of vehicles, and if a vehicle’s speed is detected to be higher than the posted legal limit, a photo is taken of the car—including the license plate, stored digitally, and later printed along with a speeding ticket.[10]

In Richmond, each speed camera location will have warning signs posted informing drivers that safety cameras are present and operational to monitor vehicles traveling eleven miles per hour or more over the posted school zone speed limit.[11] However, tickets will not be automatically sent to the owner of the car.[12] There will be a warning period of thirty days once the cameras are in operation; during this warning period, warnings will be issued to the vehicle owner whose car was caught speeding by the camera.[13] Once this warning period has concluded, the vehicle owner will be liable for a monetary civil penalty, which, once received, will be placed into a special fund called the Vision Zero Action Plan Fund.[14] Within the first thirty days of a person’s first violation, the civil penalty will be fifty dollars, and for all subsequent violations after the first thirty days, the civil penalty will be one hundred dollars.[15] These funds will be first applied to sustaining the Safety Camera Program, and the remainder of the funds will be used to implement the strategies set forth in the Vision Zero Action Plan.[16]

Speed Cameras are not designed to be used in leu of traditional police efforts; rather, they are meant to be used to aid traditional efforts or supplement those in locations where traffic stops are impractical or unsafe.[17] Before citations are issued, all evidence will be reviewed by the Richmond Police Department.[18]

Four safety cameras are being deployed in the Richmond area on a pilot basis within active school zones.[19] These locations are designated as Site A and Site B.[20] Site A is Linwood Holton Elementary School. The speed cameras will be located northbound on Hermitage Road and westbound on Laburnum Avenue.[21] Site B is Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts. The speed cameras will be located eastbound and westbound on Semmes Avenue.[22]

Richmond City has not posted a detailed timeline of when these speed cameras will go live; however, on November 1, 2023, the speed cameras were installed at Site B.[23]





Image Source: https://www.axios.com/local/richmond/2023/11/02/richmond-speed-cameras-traffic

[1] Ned Oliver & Karri Peifer, Richmond is adding its first speed enforcement cameras, Axios Richmond (Nov. 2. 2023), https://www.axios.com/local/richmond/2023/11/02/richmond-speed-cameras-traffic.

[2] Richmond Safety Camera Program, RVA, https://rva.gov/police/safety-camera-program#:~:text=Richmond%20Safety%20Camera%20Program&text=One%20of%20the%20key%20objectives,eliminate%20speeding%20on%20City%20streets.

[3] Oliver & Peifer, supra note 1.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Richmond Safety Camera Program, supra note 2.

[7] Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-882.1 (2020).

[8] Id.

[9] Automated Speed Camera Enforcement, CDC (Feb. 28, 2022), https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/calculator /factsheet/speed.html.

[10] The Pros and Cons of Speed Cameras on Driver Safety, Elite Driving School, https://www.drivingschool.net/the -pros-and-cons-of-speed-cameras-driver-safety.html.

[11] Richmond Safety Camera Program, supra note 2.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Richmond Safety Camera Program, supra note 2.

[17] Automated Speed Camera Enforcement, supra note 8.

[18] Richmond Safety Camera Program, supra note 2.

[19] Id.

[20] Id.

[21] Id.

[22] Id.

[23] Richmond Safety Camera Program, supra note 2.