TAMPA, Fla. — Hillsborough County is cracking down on drivers speeding near schools. On Wednesday morning, county commissioners voted unanimously to allow cameras to be installed in 29 school zones.
The cameras will only be active during arrival and dismissal hours. Once the program is rolled out, there will be a 30-day grace period. After that, drivers going over 10 mph over the speed limit will get a $100 ticket. County officials hope the cameras will get drivers to slow down.
“This is not something that we can play around with anymore,” Commissioner Michael Owen said. “Especially on my side of town. I drive past about six schools on my way to work and people pass by me flying by.”
Lauren Frazier lives across the street from Westchase Elementary, where her three kids go to school. They have to cross busy Linebaugh Avenue, where the speed limit outside the school zone is 45 mph. Frazier said she sees drivers going faster than that even in the school zone every day.
“If nobody’s being watched, they do what they want,” she said. “There’s no enforcement.”
Frazier said the problem has gotten so serious, she doesn’t feel safe letting her kids walk to school anymore. Westchase Elementary is not one of the 29 school zones in Hillsborough County to get speed cameras, which surprised Frazier.
“There’s no mechanism for holding people accountable, apart from a police car or sheriff’s vehicle or motor car stationed, waiting to catch you,” she said. “That’s not really good for behavioral modification, that’s just like how can sneaky can I be until I’m caught.”
In April, the Florida Legislature passed a law that allowed communities to install cameras to crackdown on speeding in school zones. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office then identified 29 schools where they say speeding is a consistent problem.
“It was a three-day study that was conducted at 29 schools and the results were pretty staggering,” Chief Deputy Thomas St. John said. “There were 25,000 violations in excess of 10 miles an hour or more over the speed limit, so we really feel strongly that this will be a great force multiplier.”
Frazier has been advocating for more crosswalks near Westchase Elementary since May, and she’s going to continue to push to get the speed cameras as well.
“How would you feel if you were that person that struck somebody?” Frazier asked. “It’s not just the person that got hurt that is now reeling from your poor decisions, but you’re also reeling from your poor decisions and so helping all of us to just make better decisions so that bad things don’t happen.”
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will oversee the speed cameras and is working to find a vendor to install them in the first 29 school zones. Additional cameras can be added to other schools in the future, with approval from county commissioners.
The schools where speed cameras will be installed include:
Bay Crest Elementary School
Bloomingdale High School
Buchanan Middle School
Burnett Middle School
Burns Middle School
Citrus Park Elementary School
Clair Mel Elementary School
Claywell Elementary School
Deer Park Elementary School
Frost Elementary School
Giunta Middle School
Jennings Middle School
Kingswood Elementary School
Lennard High School
Lopez Elementary School
Lopez Exceptional Center
Martinez Middle School
McKitrick Elementary School
Mort Elementary School
Nelson Elementary School
Riverview High School
Rodgers Middle School
Ruskin Elementary School
Sgt. Smith Middle School
Steinbrenner High School
Town N Country Elementary School
Winthrop Charter School
Yates Elementary School