WIMBERLEY, Texas (KXAN) — A new safety program in Hays County hopes to slow drivers down in an area where it’s especially important to follow the speed limit: school zones.
“There’s a reason the state sets those speed limits,” said Constable Darrell Ayres, Hays County Precinct 3. “And five miles above that speed limit could be the difference between life and death in an accident.”
Wimberley is the first district in Hays to receive a School Safety Zone vehicle, which operates unmanned.
“Frees us up from having to be there and still accomplishes the same thing as far as slowing down traffic, and bringing people into compliance,” said Ayers.
Deputies went through intense training to be able to operate it, which included computer training and getting radar certified.
They first tested it out during summer school, looking for speeding drivers at Scudder Elementary.
“Taking guesses in my department on how many and the average was anywhere between 20 and 40,” said Ayers. “And when it came back at almost at 80, we were quite shocked at how it did!”
During the summer, speeders were given warnings. This will also be the case during the first 15 days of school. But after that, speeding drivers can expect a $150 civil citation.
“It’s not something that’s going to replace our jobs, or what we do, this is a tool just like any other tool we wear on our belt,” said Deputy Ray Helm. “If we have something to help us monitor traffic and keep our kids safe, then absolutely it’s a tool we need.”
When school zone lights are flashing, drivers going 6 miles per hour over the speed limit are photographed and fined. But even outside school zone times, you can still get a ticket if you’re going 11 miles per hour over.
“Majority of fatalities on the highway are caused by speeders, we want bring that down and make sure in the school zones that is not the case, at least not in Wimberley, Texas,” said Ayers.
The equipment came from American Traffic Solutions, which doesn’t actually charge for the equipment. Instead, they get a percentage of the fines from violators.
Next month, Dripping Springs will also get a vehicle.