SPD partnering with tech company to crack down on drivers who speed in school zones

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 11:44 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 18, 2022 at 3:56 PM CDT

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - With 27 schools housed inside the city limits of Shreveport, there’s a good chance that on your way to work each morning, you pass through a school zone, and notice the blinking yellow lights warning you to slow down.

At the end of summer, as each new school year approaches, police across the ArkLaTex warn drivers to slow down, but as the chief of the Shreveport Police Department recently told KSLA News 12, year in and year out, too many drivers fail to heed that warning.

“I see people quite often, for one reason or another, just totally disregard schools and speed,” said Chief Wayne Smith.

This year, to crack down on folks who don’t slow down in school zones, SPD is adopting a technological approach to capture speeders.

“We don’t have the resources we used to, so I think as we move forward, we’re going to have to embrace the value of technology,” the chief said.

The technology is called photo enforcement, and it utilizes LiDAR and stationary cameras at each end of a school zone to detect speeding vehicles. According to Chief Smith, SPD is partnering with a company called Blue Line Solutions to install the equipment and monitor the program.

“Shreveport is a huge priority for us,” said Gina Sullivan, a representative of Blue Line Solutions. “It’s scheduled to go throughout the whole city. It just has to happen in phases.”

Currently, photo enforcement is active in five school zones: Captain Shreve High School, Green Oaks High School, Caddo Magnet High School, Caddo Heights Math/Science Elementary, and Creswell Elementary, with five more schools scheduled to go online soon.

“It’s really a massive undertaking,” Chief Smith said. “Because many of our streets are not just city streets, but state highways also, so more than just the City of Shreveport have to okay it.”

And according to Sullivan, Shreveport drivers will get plenty of warnings to slow down when approaching a school zone monitored by photo enforcement.

“We give them lots and lots of chances with three different signs,” said Chief Smith. “There’s always the placard that says, ‘Hey, this is the speed limit.’ In some schools, you’ll have flashers, then you’ll have a radar feedback sign that says you’re going too fast. And finally, there’s going to be one that says, ‘photo speed enforced.’ So if you’re still speeding when you get to the school zone, then that’s all on you.”

According to Sullivan, if someone does speed through a school zone during posted hours, one of Blue Line Solution’s stationary cameras will snap a picture of the car’s rear license plate. In monitoring the cameras, the company gets that photograph and verifies the license plate with the car’s registration. At that point, SPD gets the information and runs a second check. If everything comes back okay, the registered car owner gets a ticket in the mail.

But what if the speeding driver isn’t the car’s owner?

“There is a transfer of liability that is included as a way for you to transfer the liability to whoever was driving the vehicle,” Sullivan said.

Chief Smith says the idea to electronically monitor speeding in school zones began with a master study, during which Blue Line Solutions took traffic and speeding counts at 20 Shreveport schools. The results showed nearly 75,000 people speeding through school zones over a five-day period.

“So yes, we feel like the need is huge in Shreveport,” Sullivan said. “And what happens in most parts of the country is once people learn about the system and learn that it’s there, they will slow down. We usually see a 90% reduction in speeding.”

In Louisiana, posted school zone hours are Monday through Friday from 7 to 9 a.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m.

For now, SPD is giving drivers caught speeding on-camera a grace period. But on Monday, Sept. 5, the department is supposed to start issuing speeding tickets under the new photo enforcement program.

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