After 30,000 tickets, speed cameras attract backlash from drivers who call them a “ cash grab ”
SNELLVILLE, Georgia. – Snellville Police said they sent more than 30,000 tickets since six-speed cameras were installed in school zones.
While some drivers say they are necessary, others say it’s all about the money.
Jason Bramlett said opening the mailbox and searching for a speeding ticket has become something of a routine.
“Every day we’ll come home and we’ll be like, hey, have another one,” Bramlett said. “This is a complete and utter seizure of the town of Snellville.”
He said he had received two tickets and a warning about speeding in the city. Bramlett thinks it’s not a matter of security, but of using technology to profit.
“Think about the amount of money they make on each ticket,” Bramlett said. “They wrote 30,000 tickets in three months? This is ridiculous.”
Snellville Police Lt. Zachary Sphar said cameras were activated near all three schools an hour before the morning bell until an hour after the dismissal bell. Under Georgia state law, cameras can only coerce drivers for exceeding the speed limit by more than 18 km.
The cameras are located across from South Gwinnett High School on Main Street, across from Snellville Middle School on Pate Road and across from Britt Elementary School on Skyland Drive.
“The point is to get voluntary compliance because we are trying to keep the kids in high school safe,” Lt Sphar said. “The goal is public safety. I know people say it’s a drain on money, but it’s not. It’s about making people slow down.”
“It’s very sneaky because I drive there at least two or three times a day,” said Bramlett. “There is a small sign that points to the cameras.”
On the other hand, Woodrow Gaines, a Snellville resident, who also runs a safe driving course for teenagers, thinks the camera is a good way to get people to slow down.
“They don’t care,” Gaines said. “Someone’s life depends on our being aware of what we are doing when we are behind the wheel.”
Police began using the cameras in February, which began with a 30-day grace period during which they sent out warnings. Now, drivers will receive an $ 80 ticket for their first offense, and a $ 130 ticket each time thereafter.
Lt. Sphar said the cameras seem to be making a difference. In March, he said they sent out around 14,000 tickets. In April, they sent 7,000.
He also pointed out that although they have issued around 30,000 tickets since they started using them, they have also thrown away another 31,000.
Sphar said the main reason they are fired is because of false triggers when drivers are not breaking the law. He also said that if the camera captures a car accelerating more than once in a certain amount of time, the police will still only show once who the car is registered to.
First, an employee of the camera company, RedSpeed International, reviews the footage, Sphar said. Then it is sent to the ministry for further review, he said. Included with the ticket in the mail is a link allowing the driver to view the video footage himself.
Sphar said 65% of the money they received from tickets went to the police department. The rest goes to RedSpeed, which owns and maintains the cameras.
He said that despite criticism, he believes the cameras are serving their purpose.
“They say the cameras are there and it’s having the desired effect of slowing people down,” Sphar said.
Bramlett thinks, at the very least, that the sign may be larger to warn drivers.
“I think if it’s really a safety issue, they should put up bigger signage and more lights so people know,” Bramlett said. “The reason they haven’t done it is to look at the number of tickets they write.”
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