School speed zones may soon have an upgraded way of letting law enforcement know whether someone is exceeding the speed limit.
Florida Senate Bill 410 would allow the installation of speed detecting systems. Some of the bill’s content includes a $158 fine that won’t impact insurance, fines starting at 10 mph over the speed limit, with enforcement beginning an hour before the start of school until one hour after.
Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, R-Doral and one of the sponsors of the bill, explained why Florida should allow private companies to enforce speed limits with cameras to generate speeding tickets, despite skepticism from opposing senators.
“Florida ranked No. 50 of all states in terms of unsafe driving in school zones,” Rodriguez said. “Twenty of our counties, both rural and urban, received ‘F’ grades for unsafe driving behavior in school safety zones.”
Fellow Republican Senator Jeff Brandes, from Pinellas County, has chaired the Transportation Committee for four years. He said private companies wanting to implement traffic cameras would lobby him every year.
Brandes said there may be an alternative motive why these companies are pushing for this, and it’s not because they want to see safety standards increase at schools with busy, high-speed thoroughfares. He described the camera companies as “money hungry.”
“There is no end to where we could put cameras in the state of Florida,” Brandes said. “You know what cameras do? They take the human aspect out of law enforcement.”
Just outside of Griffin Middle School on Old Bainbridge Road, there is a school zone with a device that monitors the speed limit of vehicles passing by. The flashing yellow light when approaching signifies when a driver must go the reduced speed limit. In this case, 20 mph. Violators could be issued a citation or traffic ticket by a law enforcement official if they are present at the location.
The proposed Senate bill could change things. It would allow the cameras to photograph or record violators in the school zones.
SB 410 has gone through a number of committees, including Education, Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development. It also has a companion bill in the Florida’s House of Representatives, HB 189.
But as of Feb. 21, it has yet to be placed on a committee’s agenda.
You can find up to date information on the bill’s status at flsenate.gov.