New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | August 19, 2022

Speed camera ordinance heads to public hearing in New Kent

By Robb Johnson | August 2, 2022 3:52 pm

With a new elementary school slated to open this Fall in New Kent, safety continues to be one of the top priorities for the return of students to the classrooms. A proposal from New Kent County Sheriff J. Joe McLaughlin Jr. is focusing on making sure it starts on local highways.

McLaughlin made a recommendation to New Kent County leaders during the July 27 work session on the possibly of place speed cameras in school and work zones to capture those breaking the law.

The sheriff has been working with Blue Line Solutions, a company established in 2010 by Mark Hutchinson, who was also key in the “Click It or Ticket” safety belt campaign that rolled out in 2000.

The proposed ordinance would allow the county to use photo enforcement in school zones and work zones. Citations could be issued if the speed limit is exceeded by 11 miles or faster. Blue Line Solutions would send out the citations along with information such as the speed and the day of the ticket. By state code, the violation is $15, but a locality can impose an $85 civil fine, with all of the civil payment being received by the county.

Working with the Sheriff’s Office, Blue Line Solutions conducted a five-day convert speed study in the vicinity of the new Quinton Elementary School. The speed was reduced to 25 miles per hour over that study, with more than 25,000 vehicles passing through that area. The results of the study revealed that 14,000 drivers violated the speed limit during that time.

Blue Line Solutions said that approval would allow them to provide a 30-day warning period before live summons goes out. If the program is approved, a 90-day study will be conducted with hopes to see violations reduce between the 90 and 92 percentiles.

McLaughlin said that his number one concern is the safety of all citizens and drivers, especially with a new school coming online in one of the quickest growing areas of New Kent County.

“This is purely about traffic safety,” the sheriff said. “It has nothing to do with revenue. It has to do with reducing vehicle crashes.”

Virginia’s Department of Transportation (VDOT) agreed with the sheriff’s recommendation to post a limit of 25 miles per hour in the zone. In some localities, a school zone of 35 miles per area can be found on major highways. New Kent Highway (Route 249) is the major highway that Quinton Elementary School is connected to.

“If you come through that area with a violation, you earned it,” McLaughlin concluded.

The ordinance and proposal is expected to be discussed during the Aug. 8 public hearing. If approved, the contract terms would reflect on the tenure of the current sheriff in New Kent County who will be responsible for overseeing the program.