SPRINGFIELD — Some costly lessons are about to be learned in the Effingham County School District.
In an effort to curb speeding, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with Blue Line Solutions, is launching a school zone photo enforcement program. Automated Speed Enforcement Technology (ASET) will start Friday at Blandford Elementary School (McCall Road), Marlow Elementary School (Ga. Hwy 17), South Effingham Elementary School (Kolic Helmey Road) and South Effingham middle and high schools (Ga. Hwy 30-Noel C. Conaway Road).
Violators will receive a warning for exceeding school zone speed limits by 10 mph or more for the first 30 days following the program’s start. After that, they will receive citations.
“We have approximately 13,651 students in our school district and we certainly want to make sure the area where they’re spending the majority of their day is very safe,” Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford said.
ASETs identify vehicles and capture their speed through the use of a laser beam. Blue Line Solutions touts their speed calculating ability as 100 percent accurate.
The cameras will capture the tag number of vehicles traveling at 10 mph or more over the speed limit. Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie reminded drivers, however, that they should heed posted signs.
“You never know if that deputy is going to be sitting down there when that school zone is going on and (if) it’s one mile over the speed limit — he can write you a citation,” he said.
Citations will cost $75 plus a $25 processing fee. Second and subsequent violations will cost $125 plus a $25 processing fee.
The revenue will be split between Effingham County (65 percent) and Blue Line Solutions (35 percent).
Blue Line Solutions Director Bob Dallas said the goal of the program is not to issue citations.
“This is about safety,” he said.
During a recent five-day study in Effingham County, Blue Line Solutions discovered that 7,730 vehicles exceeded school zone speed limits by more than 10 mph. McDuffie was surprised by the finding.
“We knew there was a lot,” he said. “We had no idea it was to that magnitude. I don’t have the manpower or the ability to put that many people in the school zones all the time.”
Another five-day speed study will be conducted after the first 30 days of ASET use.
“What we’ve done is we’ve looked at the data closely and have been able to observe that when automated speed enforcement is in a school zone, drivers comply (with speed limits),” Dallas said.
Effingham County middle and high schools, and Ebenezer elementary and middle schools will soon receive ASET technology, the sheriff said.