Written By: Prince William County
Since 2020, Prince William County has experienced an increase in severe injuries and fatal crashes. As a result, the Prince William County Department of Transportation and Prince William County Police Department established the Traffic Safety Working Group (TSWG) to identify and implement strategies and measures to mitigate crashes and reduce the number of severe injuries and fatalities on county roads, with the goal of improving the overall safety and well-being of all persons in the county.
On March 1, 2022, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, via DIR 22-09, directed the Prince William County Department of Transportation and the Prince William County Police Department to conduct a study determining the feasibility of implementing an automated traffic photo-monitoring and speed enforcement program in Prince William County. The study focused on traffic enforcement of speeding in active school crossing and highway work zones and the enforcement of traffic signal lights.
In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly passed Virginia State Code § 15.2-968.1, “Use of photo-monitoring systems to enforce traffic light signals.” VA § 15.2-968.1 allows for the governing body of any jurisdiction to provide by ordinance for the establishment of a traffic signal enforcement program imposing monetary liability on the operator of a motor vehicle for failure to comply with traffic light signals in such locality in accordance with the provisions of VA §15.2-968.1, for the purposes of recording violations of traffic lights, right turn on a steady red light after stopping, or left turn on steady red after stopping.
Provisions in House Bill 1442 and Virginia State Code § 46.2-882.1, passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2020, allow for the “use of photo speed monitoring devices in highway work zones and school crossing zones.” State and local law enforcement agencies have the authority to operate photo speed monitoring devices in or around active school crossing zones and highway work zones for the purpose of recording images of vehicles that are traveling at speeds of at least 10 miles per hour above the posted school crossing zone speed liming or highway work zone speed limit. This legislation allows the county to implement these devices in any properly signed school crossing zone or highway work zone and allows the county to impose a monetary penalty of up to $100 on the operator of a motor vehicle observed going at least 10 miles per hour above the posted speed limit.
In late 2022 and early 2023, the TSWG presented the Feasibility Study results and recommendations to members of the Board of County Supervisors, County Executive and stakeholders. Key findings and recommendations include 1) a well-structured automated traffic enforcement program would have a significant impact on road safety and could be a cost-effective and feasible program in the county, especially if it is integrated into the broader county traffic safety action plan and road safety initiatives; 2) the Board should consider implementing an Automated Traffic Enforcement Program Pilot for one year consisting of a limited number of school crossing and highway work zones for speed enforcement, and limited number of intersections for traffic light signal enforcement to test the assumptions of the Feasibility Study; and 3) the Board should review the efficacy and costs of the Pilot Program after one year before determining to continue, terminate or expand the Pilot Program into a larger, permanent program.
On April 11, 2023, following a public hearing, the Board of County Supervisor voted to initiate the Automated Traffic Enforcement Pilot Program.
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