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Current Traffic Controls Ineffective, Police Chiefs Say

Sept. 10, 2007 — A bill calling for lower speed limits in local school zones spurred deeper discussion in the Senate Monday about how to keep residents from disregarding the territory's traffic laws.
Taking their cue from testimony given by Thomas Hannah, chief of police for the St. Croix district, several people testifying during Monday's meeting of the Government Operations and Consumer Protection Committee agreed that harsher penalties for traffic violations could keep residents from continuing to speed, skip red lights and block traffic on local highways.
"Many people don't even blink at the thought of a $25 traffic ticket," Hannah said. "These penalties don't serve as a deterrent. In fact, many residents don't even come to court anymore to contest the tickets. They just wait until they have to register their cars, then pay whatever money they owe."
Echoing Hannah's statements, St. Thomas-St. John District Chief of Police Rodney Querrard added that increased fines — possibly up to $100 per ticket — would force residents to think twice before violating any of the territory's traffic laws.
Getting back to discussion on the bill, Hannah explained that many local schools are built on major highways, which puts students who may have to cross the street or walk along the road in serious danger. Signs near the school zones only caution residents to slow down "when students are present," and do not serve as a deterrent for speeding motorists, he added.
In an effort to combat the problem, the bill, sponsored by Sen. Neville A. James, sets a 10 miles-per-hour speed limit around school zones from 7 to 9 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. The bill also provides a $500,000 appropriation to the Department of Public Works to install speed-limit signs, flashing lights and speed-monitoring devices on streets surrounding V.I. schools.
During Monday's meeting, James described the bill as "necessary," since many St. Croix schools are built along highways, providing little safety for students during the day or night, when evening classes and other activities are in session. Similar problems also exist on St. Thomas, Querrard added, since several local campuses — such as Charlotte Amalie High School or Addelita Cancryn — are fanned by major roadways.
While senators voted to forward the bill onto the Rules and Judiciary Committee, several also expressed concern about whether police would be able to enforce the new restrictions. Others added that certain amendments should be added to the bill, including a provision that places speed-limit signs at least 500 feet in front of local school zones. The extra signs would give motorists advance warning that a school zone is approaching and more time to slow down, explained Sen. Alvin L. Williams.
Since representatives from the Public Finance Authority and Department of Property and Procurement did not attend Monday's meeting, senators voted to hold another bill that calls for the PFA to identify the financing necessary to build government complexes in both districts.
Present during Monday's meeting were Sens. Liston Davis, Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Juan Figueroa-Serville, James, Shawn-Michael Malone, Terrence "Positive" Nelson, Basil Ottley Jr., Williams and Ronald E. Russell.
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Sept. 10, 2007 -- A bill calling for lower speed limits in local school zones spurred deeper discussion in the Senate Monday about how to keep residents from disregarding the territory's traffic laws.
Taking their cue from testimony given by Thomas Hannah, chief of police for the St. Croix district, several people testifying during Monday's meeting of the Government Operations and Consumer Protection Committee agreed that harsher penalties for traffic violations could keep residents from continuing to speed, skip red lights and block traffic on local highways.
"Many people don't even blink at the thought of a $25 traffic ticket," Hannah said. "These penalties don't serve as a deterrent. In fact, many residents don't even come to court anymore to contest the tickets. They just wait until they have to register their cars, then pay whatever money they owe."
Echoing Hannah's statements, St. Thomas-St. John District Chief of Police Rodney Querrard added that increased fines -- possibly up to $100 per ticket -- would force residents to think twice before violating any of the territory's traffic laws.
Getting back to discussion on the bill, Hannah explained that many local schools are built on major highways, which puts students who may have to cross the street or walk along the road in serious danger. Signs near the school zones only caution residents to slow down "when students are present," and do not serve as a deterrent for speeding motorists, he added.
In an effort to combat the problem, the bill, sponsored by Sen. Neville A. James, sets a 10 miles-per-hour speed limit around school zones from 7 to 9 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. The bill also provides a $500,000 appropriation to the Department of Public Works to install speed-limit signs, flashing lights and speed-monitoring devices on streets surrounding V.I. schools.
During Monday's meeting, James described the bill as "necessary," since many St. Croix schools are built along highways, providing little safety for students during the day or night, when evening classes and other activities are in session. Similar problems also exist on St. Thomas, Querrard added, since several local campuses -- such as Charlotte Amalie High School or Addelita Cancryn -- are fanned by major roadways.
While senators voted to forward the bill onto the Rules and Judiciary Committee, several also expressed concern about whether police would be able to enforce the new restrictions. Others added that certain amendments should be added to the bill, including a provision that places speed-limit signs at least 500 feet in front of local school zones. The extra signs would give motorists advance warning that a school zone is approaching and more time to slow down, explained Sen. Alvin L. Williams.
Since representatives from the Public Finance Authority and Department of Property and Procurement did not attend Monday's meeting, senators voted to hold another bill that calls for the PFA to identify the financing necessary to build government complexes in both districts.
Present during Monday's meeting were Sens. Liston Davis, Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Juan Figueroa-Serville, James, Shawn-Michael Malone, Terrence "Positive" Nelson, Basil Ottley Jr., Williams and Ronald E. Russell.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.