Program to curb speeding starts Sept. 1

Advocate Acadiana bureau
Published: Aug 22, 2007 - Page: 1BA

LAFAYETTE — Starting Sept. 1, drivers in Lafayette will need to pay extra care to stay under the speed limit — whether they see a police car or not.

That day will be the first of the new SafeSpeed Lafayette program — in which cameras mounted on vans will catch speeders in the act, triggering a civil fine similar to a parking ticket.

For the first 30 days, violators will get only a warning letter.

After that, starting Oct. 1, the tickets become real, with fines for first offenses about $120.

The City-Parish Council on Tuesday approved the beginning of the program, which will be run by a private company, Redflex.

Traffic and Transportation Director Tony Tramel said that one van is ready to go and a second will be put into service soon.

Redflex will also be operating the SafeLight Lafayette program, which will place cameras at a couple of dozen intersections around town to catch red light runners and speeders.

Details remain to be worked out about installation of those cameras, Tramel said.

Once about four or five cameras are ready to go — which could happen in as soon as two or three weeks — the council will start a similar 30-day warning ticket period for those violators.

The cameras take a picture of the front and back of a vehicle, then track down the owner using the license plate number.

The violator will have the ticket mailed to his home.

They have the option of visiting a Web site where he can view pictures of his violation, Tramel said.

If the owner of the car and the driver caught on tape are different people, the car owner can sign an affidavit transferring the ticket to the driver.

The council amended the ordinance Tuesday to say that should the new accused driver not pay the ticket within 40 days, the ticket would be reassigned to the car owner.

Councilman Randy Menard said that could cause problems. If a person has been willing to swear an affidavit that someone else was driving, that should end the matter for them, Menard said.

The city-parish plans on advertising the program a great deal during the warning period, Tramel said.

Officials have said that the point of the program is to change driver behavior. Many people will pay more attention to their driving just knowing that the cameras might be watching, they’ve said.