Dalton may use photo speed enforcement in some school zones

Nov. 7—Dalton Police Chief Cliff Cason said the police department has had numerous complaints about speeding on Waugh Street in the Dalton High School speed zone and on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard near Roan School. He said City Council members asked him to look into potential solutions to those problems.

During a recent city Finance Committee meeting he presented one potential solution to council members. The Finance Committee is composed of the City Council members.

"Roan School had 10 crashes in the past 12 months," he said. "Four of those were crashes with injuries which accounted for nine total injuries."

"Waugh Street had 23 total crashes, six were injury crashes with 10 injuries," he said.

Those numbers were just from the areas within the school zones.

He said that police department does issue tickets.

"The problem is that the way the road is set up there really is nowhere for us to safely set up and do speed enforcement," he said. "We want to slow speed down but not create an additional safety hazard."

Cason introduced Ryan Moore, regional sales manager for Blue Line Solutions, which provides speed enforcement cameras for cities and counties across the nation.

Moore said that during a five-day period 16,510 vehicles came through the school zone at Roan School, and 2,316 were doing at least 11 miles over the speed limit.

He said that under state law a vehicle must be doing at least 11 mph over the speed limit for automatic speed enforcement to issue a citation. He said the majority of speeding cars were doing at least 14 mph over the speed limit and 457 were doing at least 20 mph over the speed limit.

On Waugh Street, during that same five-day period, 31,493 vehicles passed through the Dalton High School school zone. Of those, 5,463 were doing at least 11 mph above the speed limit and 280 were doing at least 20 mph over the speed limit.

"Our system uses LIDAR, not radar, for speed measurement," said Moore. "LIDAR is much more defendable in court than radar, especially with automated enforcement, because it uses a single laser beam to capture speeds of vehicles."

He said other companies use radar, which records multiple vehicles at once and tries to determine the speed of each.

"LIDAR pinpoints the speed of only one vehicle at a time, so we can prove that the vehicle captured was the only vehicle in question," he said.

Moore said when Blue Line goes into a community it works with local media and social media to get the word out before enforcement begins.

"We want everyone to know," he said.

He said they place signs 300 feet before the enforcement zone warning drivers. He said that for the first 30 days speeders would get only a warning ticket.

"All of this would have to go through (the Georgia Department of Transportation) for permits, and the school system would also have to sign off on this," said City Administrator Andrew Parker.

"The safety of all students and staff is always a priority so anything that helps enhance the safety of students as they arrive and depart our school campuses would be a positive," said Dalton Public Schools Interim Communications Director Pat Holloway.

Parker said he will put together a proposal for the council members to consider at an upcoming meeting. Parker said even if the council members approve the proposal this year, it would be the fall of 2024 before the system was up and running.