In the coming weeks drivers speeding along Highway 17 in front of Wrens Elementary will receive citations mailed to them from a new autonomous camera-radar system being installed there.
Wrens Police Chief John Maynard said that the system is being installed, monitored and operated at no cost to the city.
“The main goal is just to make people slow down,” Maynard said. “Based on the research this company has done, a speed reduction of just 5 miles per hour doubles a child’s chance of survival if they are hit by a vehicle.”
The chief said that at one point Georgia was ranked 36 out of 51 for school zone safety.
“This has been in the works for about two years,” Maynard said. “It’s a long process. The Department of Transportation has to be involved.”
The system, which is owned and operated by RedSpeed USA, uses an internal radar system, cameras and license plate readers to detect passing vehicles’ speed, photograph and read the tag and then mails citations to the registered owner of the vehicle.
The system only cites vehicles that are going more than 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit in the school zone, one hour before, one hour after and during school hours.
“It is completely handled through civil court, the state is not involved,” Maynard said. "No points will be assigned to a violator’s license and this shouldn’t make your insurance premiums rise. The first fine is $75 and the second and subsequent fines are $125.”
The company pays for these systems and makes their funds from a portion of the fines collected. The city will also get a portion of those fines, Maynard said.
“New signs will be posted warning motorists,” the chief said. “The idea is for drivers to see the signs on either side and the flashing lights and to slow down. I don’t want your money, we just want everyone to be safe.”
Once they are installed and are fully functional, the company will give motorists a 30-day grace period in which they mail warnings. If vehicle owners wish to dispute the citations, Maynard said that they can do so with the company or in civil court if they choose. If someone who has been cited chooses to ignore the citation and makes no attempt to pay the debt or attend a court hearing, then the company notifies the tag office where the vehicle is registered and that registration will not be able to be renewed until the debt is settled.
While the system will only ticket drivers who violate the law during school hours, the license plate reader will be working any time an Amber Alert is issued. These alerts notify law enforcement agencies when a child has been abducted and is believed to be in imminent danger.
"So if by chance an Amber Alert is put out and that vehicle decides to drive by our speed zone it will alert law enforcement that vehicle has been seen here,” Maynard said. “That’s cool and it’s free. It doesn’t cost us anything."
The city recently received a letter from the power company that will be servicing the system and the police chief expects the system to be up and operational within a couple of months.
This article originally appeared on Augusta Chronicle: Camera-radar system will issue tickets in Wrens school zone