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Colorado Springs, Colo., Considers New Speed Cameras

Drivers exceeding speed limits in Colorado Springs could be caught on camera if the city implements a new system that uses radar technology to track and identify speeders.

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(TNS) — Drivers exceeding speed limits in Colorado Springs could be caught on camera if the city implements a new system that uses radar technology to track and identify speeders.

Police Chief Adrian Vasquez and city attorneys presented to the City Council a proposed speed safety camera program on Monday that Vasquez said will reduce traffic-related deaths and will free up police resources for other priorities.

El Paso County, the most populous county in Colorado, has led the state in traffic fatalities over the last two years — 83 in 2022 and 78 in 2023, data from the Colorado Department of Transportation show.

Colorado State Patrol previously reported 28% of the county's total traffic-related deaths in 2022 involved speeding.

"Speed is still the leading factor in major traffic crashes throughout the city, so the ability to impact that speed in different ways, I think, is very important," the police chief said Monday.

The Colorado Springs Police Department wants to contract two new vehicles equipped with special speed safety camera equipment that uses radar to track multiple lanes of traffic in one direction, and photographs and records vehicles it identifies as exceeding the speed limit.

The department would hire two new full-time civilian employees — most likely former or retired police officers — to operate the vehicles and record the violations, as required by state law, Vasquez said.

Colorado law stipulates these cameras can only be used in residential areas, roadways that border parks, and in school and construction zones. Police would prioritize deployment of the cameras first at school zones during morning and afternoon drop-off and pickup; then in parks and residential areas between peak school zone times and during the summer; then in construction sites as requested, Vasquez said.

"School zones are going to be the No. 1 priority because of our children and the amount of (speeding) complaints we get in those school zones," he said.

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Because the units are mobile, police can quickly and easily move them around the community as needed, Vasquez said.

If the City Council approves use of the program, the city must publicly notify residents for a 30-day period. After that, there will be a 30-day period during which the city assesses only warnings, and no fines, to speeders.

Once the 30-day warning period ends, drivers caught speeding in residential areas and on roadways near parks will be charged a $40 fine. Travelers caught speeding in school and construction zones will be assessed an $80 fine, Vasquez said.

Additional software will allow Colorado Springs Police Department staff to review, then accept or decline the violation, he said.

Under state law, the city cannot report the infractions to the DMV and no points are assessed for violations, said Shantel Withrow, the prosecution division chief in the City Attorney's Office. Speeding violations caught by the speed safety camera program are counted as civil infractions.

"We're talking about the ability to affect multiple vehicles in a very short amount of time, with the understanding that state law only allows it to be a civil infraction and no points assessed. So, there is that tradeoff, but it is, in my mind, a true benefit," Vasquez said of the program.

The city is still in the contracting process and the potential cost of the program is currently unknown. Officials are working with contractors to ensure the program is "cost-neutral so that it would not cost the city anything out of pocket," Vasquez said.

The City Council expects to formally vote on the proposal at its regular meeting on April 23.

© 2024 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.