What to know about school, bus enforcement cameras

Published 5:19 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2023

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With summer nearing its end and schools going back in session, it’s time to be more vigilant about driving safely. 

Along with the city bringing both red light and work zone traffic enforcement cameras, officials also installed traffic enforcement cameras for school zone areas to keep children safe. 

To help drivers continue safety measures, Public Works Community Outreach Coordinator Wayne Jones explained what motorists need to know when driving through school zones.

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“Virginia state law designates a school zone as an area near a school or highway where the ‘presence of children…requires a special warning to motorists.’ This zone will be marked by signage that will not be placed more than 600 feet from the limits of the school property,” Jones said. “The schedule for school zone violations take effect at the start of the school year. So for Nansemond Suffolk Academy, those cameras went live on Aug. 23 and Suffolk Public School cameras will go live on Sept. 4.”

So far, there are 10 schools that have traffic enforcement cameras in place. They are:

  • Creekside Elementary
  • Elephant’s Fork Elementary
  • Florence Bowser Elementary
  • John Yeates Middle
  • Kings Fork Middle
  • Kings Fork High
  • Nansemond Suffolk Academy – Pruden Boulevard and Harbour View Blvd
  • Nansemond Parkway Elementary
  • Mack Benn Jr. Elementary
  • Oakland Elementary 

“Traffic studies were carried out on all public and private schools and it was concluded that these schools were a priority. However, that does not mean additional schools will be included in the future,” Jones said.

Many might note that Suffolk Christian Academy is notably absent from the list of schools with traffic enforcement cameras. 

Jones detailed that SCA was a part of the study, but officials concluded that the school was not a priority for enforcement cameras.
“They may be included in the enforcement initiative in the future,” he said.

Additionally, school buses will be equipped with traffic enforcement cameras on their bus stop-arms. 

To help prevent confusion, Jones provided rules from the Department of Virginia on when to stop for school buses. The DMV rules state that drivers must:

  • Stop for stopped school buses with flashing red lights and an extended stop sign when approaching from any direction
  • Remain stopped until everyone is clear and the bus moves again
  • Stop whenever the bus is loading or unloading passengers, even if the lights and stop sign are not activated
  • If a school bus is on the opposite side of a median or barrier, motorists aren’t required to stop; however, drivers should be prepared for students exiting the school bus and crossing into their lanes

Fines include $100 for school speed zone violations and $250 for school bus arm violations. The tickets will be issued by mail. For those who feel they are wrongly ticketed, Jones detailed how drivers can contest the ticket. 

“As per the Work Zone cameras there is a process for appealing the violations either in court or by filing an affidavit of non-operation or affidavit of non-liability,” Jones said.

He pointed out that these areas around schools can be busy and that a driver’s full attention is required.

“Driving slower allows for better concentration and reaction time should a situation require it, but also refrain from other distractions such as cell phones,” Jones said. “School zone enforcement cameras are only active during the times stated on signage and when the lights are flashing.”

For more information, go to suffolkva.us/trafficenforcement or dmv.virginia.gov/safety/programs/school-bus.