SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Suffolk officials answered questions raised by residents about the speed enforcement cameras in place at different spots of the city, including U.S. Route 460.
The speed enforcement cameras in the city have some driven mad as they continue the discussion about them.
They claim to be the first community in Hampton Roads to have the school and work zone special enforcement cameras to catch speeders.
As 10 On Your Side has reported, they’ve snagged thousands of speeding drivers.
Many of you reached out to share their pros and cons about the new cameras.
10 On Your Side sat down with Suffolk Public Works Director Robert Lewis and Police Chief Al Chandler to get some answers.
One concern raised was about whether the school zone and work zone cameras are accurate.
“A normal police officer running radar or Lidar, checks before and after the shift to check if it’s accurate,” Chandler said. “At the speed enforcement trailer, the trailer checks itself. It constantly calibrates through the day and night. In the event that the calibration comes back wrong, that trailer instantly goes down and does not come back up until it is serviced.”
Jessica Garrett, who got a speeding ticket for going 57 mph in a 35 mph zone, was asked if she agreed with the goal of getting people not to speed.
“Yes, but there are other ways to do it,” Garrett said. “Giving you surprise tickets without letting you know in advance – ‘Hey, you were speeding.’”
Chandler said he was “at a loss as to what is expected.”
“No long can people say I got a ticket because of a demographic,” Chandler said. “People can no longer say I got a ticket because of the car I drive, or the way I looked. You got a ticket because we are using technology and that technology identifies speeders.”
Lewis said he’s beginning to see more positive than negative comments.
“I am starting to see more comments online saying, ‘Hey, this is for highway safety, my family is out there, my husband is in this work zone,” Lewis said.
One viewer wrote to 10 On Your Side and attached two photos showing what she described as a “work zone” in one, and another showing a work zone that is not on her side of the highway.
We showed the city officials the pictures, which indicated, to her, that the construction was taking place on the opposite side of the road from where she was going. She had said it was not fair because there was no construction on her side.
“There is construction in this zone, and everything that happens on the opposite side also impacts the flow on her side and the safety,” Lewis said after looking at the photos.
State law is clear that the established work zone must have signs for maximum speed and workers present.
“The workers could be behind another piece of equipment, they could’ve gone to pick up a load of material, bringing it back in to the zone,” Lewis said. “Active work zone is all in how you define it.”
One viewer wrote to 10 On Your Side that if you get a ticket, fight it and go to court.
Chandler said that for all the efforts the city’s police takes to be right, it doesn’t always happen.
“We are definitely not,” Chandler said. “here are times we make mistakes, and you want people, if they think they are wronged, to appeal this, absolutely.”
Chandler said when a violation is captured, “at that point, the company vendor reviews it, the company sends it to the Suffolk Police Department, and then our staff reviews our information (and) then we send it back to them, again, to say, ‘Yes, this is accurate.'”
It shows two different organizations looking at the ticket before it is sent out.
The ticket is issued to the car’s owner.
If that owner disputes driving the car at time, Chandler said that “you have to put in an affidavit the name of the person who as driving, and the information.”
You’ll also need an affidavit if you sold the car and DMV hasn’t caught up with the new owner.
“You can get that affidavit from the website on the back of the paper ticket,” Chandler said, “and you can also get it from the police department website under the traffic enforcement link.”
He added that “your getting a ticket follows a process requiring thoughtful consideration between the enforcement camera operators and the police.”
He added that “people saying they got caught by this automated equipment, we have a responsibility as an operator of a motor vehicle, in the Commonwealth of Virginia or anywhere else, to operate it safely and not endanger other people.”
The city told 10 On Your Side if you think you have been wrongly charged, go online to: https://www.suffolkva.us/1711/Traffic-Enforcement-Cameras. To contest a violation, Suffolk Police have links to an affidavit of non-operation or an affidavit of non-liability.