Austin Local News
Hays County School Zone Safety Program Expands Following Impressive Results from Summer Pilot Program
A Hays County official expressed surprise at the large number of warning tickets given to drivers speeding through a Scudder Primary School traffic zone in Precinct 3 on Green Acres Drive during the summer session.
“We knew that too many people were disregarding the school zone speed limits and endangering our children, but we were all surprised and dismayed that 71 warnings were issued in one school zone in only 10 days – from July 15-24,” said Precinct 4 Constable Ron Hood. “We anticipate that expanding the new school zone safety program into Precinct 4 will slow down vehicles in school zones by using advanced technology to monitor the zones when our deputies are managing other issues in the precinct.” The warnings all occurred when the school zone was active during school drop off and pick up times.
The Hays County School Zone Speed Safety Camera Program employs a van equipped with advanced 2D ranging radar technology and two high-resolution color cameras to monitor vehicle speeds through school zones. As many as two are scheduled to rotate throughout the two precincts.
“This technology will free up law enforcement officers to protect the public elsewhere while maintaining the priority that is our children’s safety,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant said. “The very visible vans should be enough incentive to make drivers slow down and obey the speed limit and if not, then a ticket might encourage them to think twice the next time they enter a school zone.” The vans will initially monitor zones at Jacob’s Well Elementary, Scudder Elementary, Rooster Springs Elementary and Dripping Springs Elementary and Middle Schools, as well as St. Stephen’s Episcopal School.
In February the Hays County Commissioners Court approved partnering with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) for Precincts 3 and 4, which have the largest number of schools in unincorporated areas. The program in Hays County involves parking a small van with the words “Photo Enforcement” stenciled on its side at selected school zones during school hours. The specially equipped van can detect vehicles speeding through the school zone in both directions and photograph their license plates. The innovative, high-tech solution will not require a law enforcement officer to be present at the school zone, freeing up law enforcement resources for other tasks.
During drop-off and pickup times, vehicles traveling 6 mph over the speed limit could be issued a $150 ticket. However, during the remaining hours of the school day tickets are issued to vehicles moving at 11 mph over the speed limit. If a speeding vehicle is detected, images of the vehicle’s license plate along with data showing its location, speed and other necessary information is collected and securely processed.
A 15-day warning period will begin August 24 and beginning September 8 drivers could face actual fines. During the warning period, drivers are encouraged to adjust their behavior so they comply with the posted speed limit. The ticket does not add points against a driver’s license, and an appeals process is available should anyone challenge the violation.
The Commissioners Court will review the program after two years to determine whether it should be continued.
More information about this school zone safety program and other safety programs is available from American Traffic Solutions at www.atsol.com.