WYTHE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Wythe County authorities are setting up speed cameras in school zones and construction zones in order to save lives by slowing down motorists.
WFXR News’ Kelsey Jean-Baptiste spoke with the Wythe County Sheriff’s Office about how this idea started.
According to Chief Deputy Anthony Cline, he saw a statistic saying that more than 100 kids are killed every year in school zones in the United States. That made him think, ‘why don’t we do something to keep the kids safe in Wythe County?’
“I don’t want child fatalities in school zones,” Cline said. “I don’t want that to happen here in Wythe County.”
Back in January, the sheriff’s office held a five-day speed study, showing that more than 25,000 drivers traveled through county school zones, including a shocking number of motorists driving over the speed limit.
“Six thousand were speeding, 10 or more over the speed limit,” said Cline.
That’s when authorities decided to take matters into their own hands, making sure they can enforce the law even when they’re not there.
“It’s hard for us to be in every school zone and answer every call in Wythe County, so this is a deterrent that we can put up in every school zone, whether we’re present or not,” Cline explained.
A Wythe County mother, Sarah Grimm, says she would always see drivers speeding on local roads when she lived in town.
“People would speed down my neighborhood,” Grimm said. “I actually put a letter in to the Town Council so they would put a stop sign up, so anything that will help traffic and keep everybody safe.”
However, not all of county’s residents think the speed cameras would stop someone from breaking the law.
“If it was about safety, they would do more than just put up cameras to collect revenue from it. They would put up retractable speed bumps or something,” said Wythe County resident Keith Heldreth, who has seen speed cameras fail in Tennessee.
According to Heldreth, nothing deters speeding more than seeing a police officer and facing the threat of getting pulled over.
He tells WFXR News he believes that if Wythe County authorities want to keep people safe, they should be on the ground ticketing people themselves. In addition, instead of collecting money from tickets, Heldreth thinks it is better to use that money for something else.
However, residents like Grimm think this is something that Wythe County needs to protect the public.