By Joe Johnson
Athens-Clarke County police said they already have mailed hundreds of written warnings in just the first week of a 30-day trial period for a school zone speed safety program that began Monday at three elementary schools.
“Lt. Jonathan Patterson oversees the program and according to him, ‘We are getting tons of violations,’” said Lt. Shaun Barnett, ACCPD’s public information officer. “I don't have a specific number of violations but according to Lt. Patterson it is in the hundreds.”
The camera systems are operating in the areas of the Barnett Shoals, J.J. Harris and Whitehead Road elementary schools.
According to police, traffic studies conducted at those school zones showed a high number of speeding vehicles while school was in session.
“Our priority is to keep our students safe.” Clarke County Schools Superintendent Xernona Thomas said. “The school zone speed cameras will encourage drivers to slow down, thereby protecting children before and after school.”
School zone speed limits change to 25 mph one hour before and one hour after school starts and one hour before and after school ends. Flashing lights alert motorists when this limit is in effect. If lights are flashing, the speed limit is 25 mph.
The system is set in motion when radar detects a speeding vehicle, activating a video camera that records the vehicle exceeding the speed limit and capturing its license plate number.
After the trial period is over, violators will begin receiving summonses that carry fines: $75 for first offenses and $125 for each subsequent offense.
“The school zone speed safety camera program is an important component of our community’s traffic enforcement efforts,” Police Chief Cleveland Spruill said. “These devices help us enforce the speed limit and allow us to utilize our officer resources in the most efficient manner throughout Athens-Clarke County.
“We strongly advise drivers to be alert and to always abide by the posted speed limit,” he said. “Speeding is always dangerous to people inside and outside of the vehicle.”
The county has contracted with Verra Mobility to administer the safety program, which now consists of five cameras. VM determines whether a violation event has occurred and reviews each warning. They forward their findings to ACCPD where the photographic evidence is reviewed multiple times before a citation is issued. For more information on Athens-Clarke County’s School Zone Speed Safety Camera Program, visit
More information about VM is available at www.verramobility.com.