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SLOW YOUR ROLL: Hendry County bringing speed cameras to school zones

New enforcement technology aims to protect children by reducing speeding violations
Posted at 10:21 PM, Mar 07, 2024

LABELLE, Fla. — Hendry County law enforcement is trying something new to stop people from speeding in school zones. They say they’re set to deploy automated speed enforcement cameras in school zones.

It's a measure aimed at curbing what some call a rampant issue of speeding in these areas.

Some people near Edward A. Upthegrove Elementary in LaBelle say they’ve seen people speed through the school zone all the time.

"I work right here on Main Street and it's every single day - people are up and down this road flying," said Heather Holt.

"I see people speeding on this road which is a block from the school zone," said Pam Elkowitz.

The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office says it’s challenging to keep up with policing the school zones.

“It’s hard to take a deputy off the road who’s handling crime to sit them to run radar in a school zone,” Sheriff Steve Whidden explained.

Whidden said they started looking into installing speed cameras following the recent Florida legislation allowing automated enforcement of speeds in school zones.

He said a five-day study of Upthegrove Elementary’s school zone revealed a significant need for more enforcement.

“They had 4,018 cars come through the school zone. 2,015 of those vehicles were doing 11 miles an hour or or more over the speed limit through that school zone. So, that’s over a 50% violation right here in just one school zone,” Whidden explained.

The cameras, provided by "Altumint" at no cost to the county, will impose a $100 fine for exceeding the speed limit by more than 11 mph.

Funded through the fines collected from violators, Whidden said this program has shown to significantly reduce speeding, with studies indicating a 70-80% decrease in speed violations.

"What I care about is slowing people down in our school zones to protect our children," emphasized Whidden.

The people Fox 4 spoke to say they welcome this development, too.

"I'm extremely happy to hear that they're going to be installing those cameras," Holt said.

With a 30-day warning period planned to acclimatize drivers to the new system, the cameras are expected to be operational by the upcoming school year.