Altavista police install automated school zone speed cameras

Fines will be enforced starting Jan. 18.

You might open a mailbox to find an unexpected ticket if you're caught speeding in a school zone.

ALTAVISTA, Va. – Altavista drivers, smile for the camera, and get out your checkbook! Police are taking steps to slow drivers in school zones.

A new, automated camera on Bedford Ave is the first of its kind in central Virginia. It clocks drivers who are going too fast and mails them the ticket.

“We do have problems with speed,” Altavista Police Chief Tommy Merricks says. “We did a speed study and it showed in a one-hour time period, there would’ve been about 15 violations.”

Merricks says the average speed on Bedford Ave is 37 miles per hour. That’s 12 miles over the speed limit.

“At 25 you’re given a 10-mile grace period. At 35, that’s when the ticket goes in,” he adds. “It’s a $100 ticket. It doesn’t go against your driving record or your DMV record. It’s a civil penalty.”

Each citation is reviewed by the police department before it’s sent out. Drivers have the right to fight it in court, like any other ticket.

For city leaders, taking action at Altavista Combined School is personal.

“One of my classmates with killed crossing right there,” Mayor Mike Mattox says. “I remember that accident. It sticks with me today. We don’t ever want one of those to happen in this area again or anywhere.”

Mattox hopes this will be used throughout the state. Police are already looking to put another one up on Lynch Mill Rd. near the elementary school.

“I’m always getting complaints and we run radar as we can,” Merricks says. “The good things about these are I don’t have to have an officer sit with these.”

Cameras will only run during school hours from 7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Police are getting ready to start trial runs with the cameras, meaning they will only hand out warnings.

Fines will be enforced starting Jan. 18.

About the Author:

Kortney joined the 10 News team as a Lynchburg Bureau Reporter in May 2021.