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.