Hamilton Council Explores the Use of Speed Cameras

The Town of Hamilton may help lead the push for authority to set up speed cameras in Virginia.

Mayor David Simpson got town council’s unanimous approval Monday night to talk with Virginia legislators about bringing speed cameras to town in an effort to help slow traffic with less of a police presence. Simpson, a former county deputy and police chief in Purcellville and Middleburg, said he has been trying since summer to get the state to initiate a test program in Hamilton.

State law currently does not permit speed cameras in the commonwealth.

“I think it would be a boom for a lot of small towns in Virginia,” he said. “I think it’s just a positive thing.”

Although the Sheriff’s Office and State Police have provided the town with extra enforcement when asked, Simpson said they couldn’t always be in town. It’s because of this that he has been talking with the Maryland State Police to better understand how the cameras work in Maryland and how that success could translate to a program in Hamilton.

“They’ve got it pretty well down pat,” Simpson said.

If speed cameras were eventually implemented in town, tickets likely would be written to the car, not the driver—the same way Maryland does it. Simpson said the town could use a portion of the revenue generated to sustain the program, while the rest could go toward worthy causes like area charities and nonprofits.

Simpson wants to make a big push for the legislation early next year, once Ralph Northam takes his seat as governor. He said it might be easier working with the new governor to get a speed camera program put in place, since Northam would initially have less on his plate than Governor Terry McAuliffe has now.

Simpson feels that legislation could possibly be passed by spring, which could bring speed cameras to town next year. “It’s worth a try,” he said.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, only 142 jurisdictions nationwide use speed cameras, including statewide work zone safety programs in Maryland, Illinois and Oregon. Thirty-one states prohibit speed cameras and 19 permit them under state or local ordinances.

6 thoughts on “Hamilton Council Explores the Use of Speed Cameras

  • 2017-12-15 at 11:54 am

    Reckon they need a way to pay for their $700,000 parking spaces. They’ll enlist a corporation (which takes about half the cash) to stick it to everybody in town. Law Enforcement via corporation. Want to guess how this will turn out for the people of Hamilton?

    If Maryland is sooo great, why don’t the mayor and the council move across the river?

    Hamilton… Throw these people out of office.

  • 2017-12-15 at 2:42 pm

    Speed scamera are NOT safety.

    Safety is pulling over a dangerous driver, NOT mailing a bill week later.

    The officials pushing this should stop being DISHONEST on the reason. IT is about MONEY!

    AS for IIHS, they are highly dubious when it comes to scamera “reports”. Even their MD one was called into question. http://www.mddriversalliance.org/2015/09/insurance-industry-study-shows-same.html?m=1 “Comparing the average accident rates from 2004-2006 to accident rates from all of 2008-20013 would have shown that Montgomery County roads fared 5.8% worse than Fairfax County: Accident rates on speed camera roads declined by 21.1% compared to a 26.9% decline on non speed camera roads in Fairfax county.”

    What you really have with speed scameras is petty billing to make money. Many areas eventually lower tolerances to “tickets” start to happen with as little as 3 mph. (1 km in one European case).

    Speed scameras have to have “violations” to be profitable so the trigger speeds are reduced as well as the speed limits to keep the “violations” high.

    Note that most “speeding’ has more to do with UNDERSET speed limits in many cases.

    IT is DISHONEST to claim that speed scameras are about “safety”.

    You would be better to do traffic claiming and speed bumps.

    Better that the state tells these “officials” NO to the scameras.

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  • 2017-12-16 at 7:57 am

    When anyone in government says they’re going to give the fine money to charity… they are not telling the truth. It’s a lie. It should be pitchforks and torches at the next town meeting.

  • 2017-12-16 at 11:05 am

    Chris Manthos — maybe you didn’t read the article closely — Mayor Simpson specifically DOES not want the revenue to go to the town. He’s pretty aware of the perceptions that some folks have of these cameras as revenue generators. The fact of the matter is that despite all our requests to the county, we don’t get much in the way of speed enforcement in our small town that people seem to think of as a convenient cut-through on their way to somewhere else.

    We’re a small town, and we keep a pretty tight budget. We’re just asking that people not make it too dangerous for us to cross from one side of the street to another.

    Craig Green
    Hamilton Town Council.

  • 2017-12-16 at 5:20 pm

    Thank you for the courage to address this issue Mr. Green. My reading comprehension is well intact.

    The issue is these camera systems are made to get the jurisdiction addicted to the revenue. You all might say charity now, but soon enough, you’ll be dipping into the cookie jar for a this and that, and the “charitable donations” begin to fall off, until it’s all being main-lined by the town government like a junkie.

    As I said; law enforcement by corporation never turns out well, and it breeds contempt for those responsible. There’s a reason why the Commonwealth does not permit this. From a policy perspective, it’s laziness, indifference and poor government. I understand the issue in Hamilton. I get it. What you, the mayor, and your fellow council members should be doing is standing on your supervisor, and the Sheriff’s desk until Hamilton receives the level of law enforcement presence it requires. They’re sensitive to the needs of the people, and this is an easy one. If that doesn’t work, then go stand on Randall’s desk, and your Delegate’s desk demanding troopers. Make it happen. Do your jobs. That’s good government in action — not being cheery about a Big Brother-esque corporation ensconced in Hamilton and the council slowly but surely becoming addicted to the money.

    As the comment above so correctly points out “Safety is pulling over a dangerous driver, NOT mailing a bill a week later.”

    I urge you to rethink this slippery slope Orwellian scheme Mr. Green. The people of Hamilton deserve far better and you know it in your heart of hearts. Be different Mr. Green. Don’t go along with the rest just because they lack the desire to do the hard part of their jobs. Be the maverick and cut yourself out of the herd mentality. Have the courage to stand up and say “You know Davie ole’ son… this is a really stupid idea. How ’bout we all drive down the hill to Harrison Street and Syclon Road and get us a deputy up here on a regular basis and do this the right way.”

    You folks are a town government. You directly represent a whole bunch of taxpayers. Don’t you think that carries some weight? Step up.

  • 2017-12-18 at 10:25 am

    “tickets likely would be written to the car, not the driver”

    Here is one more problem. These cameras just take the picture. What they discovered in Maryland, is that many government vehicles get caught speeding. So far, Maryland governments just ignore their own speeding tickets and simply don’t pay them, which further shows this is a corrupt practice. If you put in a speeding camera, then it needs to be tickets for ALL of the speeders and not tickets for SOME of the speeders.

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