Nearly all 13,000 warnings given in school zones

Nearly all 13,000 warnings given in school zones

Newport Avenue and Smithfield Avenue prove the busiest

PAWTUCKET – Nearly every warning sent to motorists since new red light and school speed zone cameras began monitoring traffic Aug. 28 has been for speeding in a school zone.

According to police data summarized for The Breeze this week, more than 98 percent of all 13,000 warnings were given for infractions near schools.

As the Police Department and private vendor Sensys Gatso continue to work together to assess all violations, initial reports showed there were more than 13,000 violation warnings last week, said Wilder Arboleda, spokesman for Mayor Donald Grebien. Only about 200 of those were sent to motorists running red lights, while the rest were for excessive speeding on major roads containing school zones.

More than 10,000 of the violations were around Goff Middle School and Potter-Burns Elementary School on Newport Avenue and Nathanael Greene on Smithfield Avenue.

“The goal is to remind everyone to slow down for the safety of our children,” said Arboleda. “The city is committed to continuously looking into additional ways to bring awareness to drivers beyond the traffic signs, social media, pamphlets, paid ads and media campaigns to ensure everyone’s safety.”

The speed to trigger a ticket in a 20-mile-per-hour school zone is 31 miles per hour. The cameras are on from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on days school is in session.

The probationary period where drivers will only get warnings began Aug. 28 and runs for 30 days.

There are significantly more school zone cameras catching speeders than intersection cameras catching those who run red lights. More locations are expected to be added, but here are the locations for cameras at the outset of the program:

Intersection cameras for red light violations:

• Cottage Street and Newport Avenue (Route 1A)

• Prospect Street at Division Street

• Main Street and Lonsdale Avenue (Route 122)

School cameras for speed violations:

• Potter-Burns Elementary School and Goff Middle School

• Nathanael Greene Elementary School

• Curtis Elementary School

• Varieur Elementary School

• Samuel Slater Middle School and Cunningham Elementary School

• Shea High School

• Jenks Middle School

• Agnes Little Elementary School

• Curvin McCabe Elementary School

The opening days of the Traffic Camera Safety Program in Pawtucket have validated the need for the traffic-control devices, according to Chief of Police Tina Goncalves.

“Preliminary data is very much supporting the need for speed measures,” she said. “The city and Pawtucket School Department have long recognized that speeding in the school areas is a problem, especially since many of the students and parents in our city walk to school daily.”

Police are “working expeditiously alongside” private contractor Sensys Gatso to ensure that they get the warnings out to violators as quickly as possible after a review process, said the chief.

“The public safety of our residents continues to be our primary focus, especially for those families in the school areas,” said Goncalves.

Every violation is reviewed by the contractor and then by the Police Department before it is sent to the violator, Goncalves emphasized in a written statement.

“We understand that there is a process to training motor vehicle drivers to slow down in school zone areas,” she said. “We will continue to educate the drivers through media efforts in order to protect our pedestrians. The goal is that the warning period will greatly reduce the speeding by schools before the violations come into effect.”

The program has drawn plenty of opinions on all sides, with some saying it represents a money grab and a violation of basic rights and others saying the cameras are needed to get people to slow down, particularly around schools.

Tickets, once the warning period is up, will be $95 per red light violation and $50 per speeding violation.


Money grab. PROOF? ALL signs that let you know your speed as you approach schools are suddenly removed or turned so they do not face traffic....THE DAY THIS TAKES EFFECT!

Monty, I'm told there's a device in your car that tells you the speed. Check if you have one in your car, should be somewhere in the dash, it's only in models of vehicles manufactured after 1910 or so. So you'll no longer have to guess when speeding by a school.