SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Suffolk residents have been driven to speak out about the speed enforcement cameras placed in different areas of the city in an effort to get drivers to slow down.
It was a topic of conversation at Wednesday’s Suffolk City Council meeting, as Police Chief Al Chandler briefed councilmembers on the early results of the speed enforcement cameras.
If you get caught, it’s a $100 fine in school and construction zones.
10 On Your Side took out the radar gun to catch speeders on camera. To be fair there were not many. We caught a driver going 55 mph in a 45 mph zone, but that was the highest we found.
You can find the first round of speed enforcement cameras on Routes 460 and 58.
Suffolk City Councilman Tim Johnson said he had fielded a number of concerns from city residents.
“For those people who called and got a ticket June 22 saying they thought it was June 30,” Johnson said, “they were wrong. It was June 15 so they deserve the ticket.”
During the council meeting, the statistics were revealed:
- From May 15- June 15 – 35,636 speed violators got a warning.
- June 15 through July 15 – 12,819 actual citations were issued, a 36% drop from the warning numbers.
“We can see from the numbers put up there they are working,” Chandler said. “I am elated that traffic and speed is a major conversation in the city of Suffolk.”
Chandler said the early data is inconclusive, but noted that it appears to be heading in the right direction,
“Traffic has slowed down, no doubt about that,” Chandler said. “It has changed the way we live.”
But one resident said she is not happy with how she found out about her speeding ticket.
“I was doing a 57 in a 35,” says Jessica Garrett who works at Fairy Tails Grooming on Route 460 in Suffolk.
She said she was driving past a sign that said, “Special Photo Enforced,” but claims she never saw a sign on the actual camera that took a picture of her car.
“I pulled out and went on my normal route,” Garrett said, “and a month later, I got a ticket in the mail for $100.”
We were interviewing Garrett with a freshly groomed dog named Lulu.
“And I think it is a doggone shame to get a ticket in the mail. It is a dog gone shame, and Lulu is not impressed either. She is not impressed by tickets.”
Chandler stressed that the information from the speed enforcement cameras is not imported into the Suffolk Police Department database and is not kept in the system.
So Garrett’s 57 mph in a 35 mph zone – 22 mph over the speed limit, it could be reckless driving, but she will not need to deal with that. She faces a $100 fine and it’s over. She said she plans to pay it.
“Am I going to pay for the ticket? Yes,” Garrett said. “Why? Because I am supposed to do that. I guess I will have to pay it.”
Does she agrees with the goal of getting people to slow down and not speed?
“Yes, I do,” she said, “but there are other ways to do it. Giving you surprise tickets without letting you know in advance, to have someone in person say, ‘Hey you were speeding,’ that’s what I think.”
Johnson mentioned one of the complaints he got.
“People wanted to know, pictures of them speeding with tractor trailers going right by them, chief, just assure the citizens the tractor trailers have gotten the same warning and they will be paying same fine,” Johnson said.
Chandler said the cameras will get a cluster of vehicles together if they are all speeding.
“I can assure you, this system does not do only one vehicle,” Chandler said. “You may be in a cluster of vehicles, and it can get more than one vehicle at the time. We are not making any delineation of any one type of vehicle, tractor trailers or be it city vehicles, everyone treated the same.”
To settle concerns, Chandler made it clear that the use of the speed enforcement cameras is not a case of Big Brother watching residents.
“This is not something we query for criminal investigations,” Chandler said. “This is not used to identify people, or for people who are pedestrians. This is also about not to trick citizens.”
The city told 10 On Your Side if you think you have been wrongly charged, go online to: