If bill passes, Durham could install traffic cameras to catch speeders in school zones

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The City of Durham could soon be installing cameras that would take pictures of cars caught speeding in school zones if a bill passes into law.

House Bill 388 proposes to create a pilot program that would allow the city to install automated cameras in a handful of school zones in the city and catch drivers going at least 3-5 mph over the speed limit.

That would mean a $250 fine for someone caught going 28 mph in a 25 mph zone.

“We’ve had excessive speeding in school zones across Durham Public Schools,” said state representative Zack Hawkins, a co-sponsor of the bill.

He said the idea for the bill came after hearing concerns from people about speeding in school zones at Hillside High School and the Durham School of the Arts. Hawkins added that the electronic school zone signs and notices will be posted within 1,000 feet of the zone.

He said the fine will be a non-criminal violation, which means no points would be added to an offender’s license. Attorney Daniel Meier said these tickets will not be easy to fight.

“If you get one, the only two ways out of it is to do an affidavit saying you weren’t the driver, or to show that this car was stolen,” Meier said. “Otherwise, the driver of the car is responsible for this penalty. For the most part, I think it’s going to boil down to if you want to avoid them, don’t speed in school zones.”

Jeremiah Henderson graduated from the Durham School of the Arts in 2019. He said he remembers drivers speeding through the school zones at times, and one time he was even hit by a car while he was riding his bike in front of the school.

“They hit the back of my back tire and I flew off,” Henderson said. “I didn’t break anything, and I wasn’t bleeding or anything like that. I was lucky. A lot of people aren’t necessarily as lucky.”

Henderson said he thinks installing these cameras in school zones could help reduce the number of speeders and help keep students safe.

“It would deter a lot of people from trying to fly down that road,” Henderson said.

However, he would like to mainly see those driving at excessive speeds ending up with the $250 ticket.

“Sometimes we get a little absent-minded when we drive. I know I do,” Henderson said. “I would like is to track very negligent speeders before drivers going just 5 miles over the speed limit.”

Hawkins said the money collected from the fines would cover the city’s administrative costs of installing the electronic speed-measuring system in the school zones. The other funds would go to the school system. He also said the cameras would just be installed at around five schools to start with, but the goal is to install the cameras in six to 12 school zones.

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