FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (DC NEWS NOW) — The Fairfax County Police Department is voiding thousands of school zone speed camera citations after a malfunction of flashing lights in two school zones.
More than 2,800 citations issued for violations near Irving Middle School in Springfield and London Towne Elementary School in Centreville after July 17 aren’t valid because the Winko-Matics – the flashing lights indicating reduced maximum speeds – weren’t working.
Department administrators will send notices to recipients of voided citations. The department said that drivers do not need to take any action.
FCPD Traffic Safety Division Supervisor 2nd Lt. Ian Yost said the department noticed the issue after the school division sent an affidavit listing times for the cameras to be turned on.
“We just want to make sure that the areas around our schools during those crucial times – when there’s kids going to and from school – [are] safe,” Yost said.
The cameras are part of a pilot program aimed at deterring unsafe driving around schools. There are 11 cameras at eight schools throughout Fairfax County, though the department is working to identify areas to place additional cameras. In July, 5,617 citations were issued, including those now voided because of the malfunction.
“I think the intended goal is working,” Yost said.
The cameras are able to capture multiple vehicles at once and can capture information on cars traveling at high rates of speed. A third party monitors the cameras and sends violations to FCPD. FCPD then determines whether a citation is warranted.
Sally Smallwood, the former Fairfax County director of Safe Routes to School, said the cameras are a long time coming.
“You want to promote kids walking but you don’t want to put them in a situation where their safety is at risk. When you have drivers who don’t respect speed limits and our most vulnerable road users are our children, no one can walk to school safely,” Smallwood said.