speed study

Lt. Charlie Wichman runs speed radar in a school zone last month.

Traffic study exposes super speeders in front of PCMS and at County Farm, Hwy. 84

Slow down! It’s for the children.

A recent traffic study conducted at the PCMS school zone, Hwy. 84 and County Farm Road school zone, and in front of BES revealed hundreds of people are driving at least 10 miles over the posted speed limit during the day.

The City of Blackshear and Board of Education agreed jointly to the study conducted by RedSpeed Georgia, a company that provides speed detection cameras and software. Local officials have been considering the cameras as one of many recently discussed solutions for school zone safety concerns, particularly at the intersection of County Farm Road and Hwy. 84 where longtime firefighter Johnnie Anderson was struck while directing traffic last month.

RedSpeed reported 511 speeders through the County Farm Road, Hwy. 84 school zone between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. last Wednesday, May 15. More than 9,000 cars passed through the intersection during that time frame. Of those, 535 were traveling at least 10 mph over the limit. One motorist sped through at 81 mph while 44 more drove through in excess of 70 mph.

The study also shows 535 of 2,300 drivers sped through the school zone in front of the middle school on May 7. The fastest driver was traveling 75 mph. Thirty-one drivers were traveling over 60 mph. The speed limit is 25 mph when the school zone signs in front of PCMS are flashing and 45 mph during normal hours.

Drivers seemed to proceed with more caution in front of Blackshear Elementary School on Hwy. 121, however. Of the 2,500 motorists who passed through that zone when the study was conducted, just 232 were traveling in excess of 10 mph or more over the limit. One driver was clocked at 86 mph. Forty-three drivers were traveling between 60-68 mph in front of the school.

The Department of Transportation’s plan to construct a traffic light at the intersection of County Farm Road and Hwy. 84 may mean the area will no longer qualify as a school zone, but local officials are still considering a plan to install speed cameras in other school zones for safety purposes, says Police Chief Chris Wright.

Wright may recommend installing the cameras at the zone in front of PCMS, but is still researching the issue.

Violators will receive a ticket in the mail should the city move forward with the program, but courtesy warnings would be sent out for the first month after the cameras are installed.

All citations issued by the RedSpeed system would be processed as civil matters through municipal court. BPD would receive 65 percent of each $75 fee and RedSpeed would take 35 percent as their payment.

The city council would have to pass a new ordinance before BPD could implement the system.

Wright would have control locally over the dates and times that the system issues citations once implemented.

Wright also favors the camera system for its secondary value to BPD – the data it records and stores could be helpful in other investigations, he says.

The speed cameras are far from a done deal, but DOT’s recommendation for an “R-cut intersection” and traffic light at County Farm Road and Hwy. 84 seems to be moving ahead at a steady pace.

Mayor Kevin Grissom met with DOT officials and signed a permit last Wednesday afternoon for construction of the light.

DOT will reportedly have the light installed by August 1, ahead of the 2020-2021 school year and opening of the new high school.