Lawtey launches camera-enforced school zone program to crack down on speeders

Outdoor CCTV monitoring, security cameras at a school playground.
The technology will be used near an elementary school and a nearby private school.

The small city of Lawtey in Bradford County went live this week with a camera-enforced program to crack down on school zone speed demons.

RedSpeed USA is providing the technology, which the Lawtey Police Department will use to identify and ticket speeders traveling 10 mph or more over the posted limit.

According to the Florida Department of Education, just one public school campus — Lawtey Elementary School — is situated within the city’s 1.51-mile bounds. The technology will be used there and at a nearby private school on two roads with posted school zone signage, a RedSpeed spokesperson said.

“Every day, students make their way to school, and they depend on and trust that drivers will make responsible decisions. Fast and reckless driving is an unacceptable, preventable risk to the safety of our school children, and it is our responsibility to address the issues with reasonable solutions,” Lawtey Chief of Police Jerry Feltner said in a statement.

“This is why we partnered with RedSpeed USA and are live with the program around our local schools.”

Camera enforcement of school safety zone limits is expanding across the Sunshine State through legislation that passed last year enabling localities to use camera-equipped radar equipment to ticket speeders around schools.

The measure (HB 657) restricts camera usage solely to speed-related infractions, with drivers receiving notices of their violations and pending $100 fines by mail. Local governments and school districts using the technology must post signage warning drivers where speed detection systems are being used. They must have also previously conducted a public awareness campaign.

“It’s very simple — no student should feel that crossing the street is a life-threatening decision, and RedSpeed USA is proud to partner with local governments to put safety measures in place that make our streets safer around schools,” RedSpeed Senior Vice President Greg Parks said in a statement. “Our program is now in place in eight local jurisdictions and (we) look forward to growing partnerships across Florida.”

Others using RedSpeed equipment for school safety zone purposes include Manatee and Miami-Dade counties, as well as the municipalities of High Springs, Miami Gardens, Palm Bay, Pinecrest and South Miami.

Several studies have evidenced a need for better speed enforcement around schools.

In 2018, smartphone-based analytics and transportation safety platform Zendrive found Florida’s school safety zones were the second-most dangerous in the nation, behind California.

The following year, the Florida Sheriffs Association conducted “Operation School Zone Safety” to increase patrolling around 40 counties after Spring Break. The one-week program produced 4,040 warnings and 2,819 traffic citations for speed violations — at the cost of nearly 5,300 police hours.

Florida law preempts local governments in the regulation and use of cameras to enforce traffic laws, meaning authorization for school districts to use the technology to curb school zone speeding had to come from the Legislature.

Doral Republican Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez carried legislation to do just that in 2022 and 2023, when it received broad support among lawmakers. Tampa Republican Rep. Traci Koster sponsored a House version of the measure that passed. Former Democratic Miami Rep. Nick Duran backed it in 2022.

Neptune Beach approved using school speed zone cameras last month. says Hillsborough County, Jacksonville in Duval County, Coconut Creek in Broward County, Eustis in Lake County, Waldo in Alachua County and Winter Garden in Orange County are considering or have plans in place to use a speed detection system.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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