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Published: Wednesday, 11/8/2006

Officials taking steps to reduce speeding, tickets

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Motorists are generally too busy keeping their eyes on the road to notice when their speedometer has climbed over the posted speed limit.

While a speedometer is easy to ignore, a large white sign with flashing red numbers showing motorists their speed is hard to miss - especially if that sign is paired with a red-light camera.

Northwood officials recently spent $7,000 to install a digital speed-awareness sign on eastbound Woodville Road at Lemoyne Road, which is one of the city streets a red-light camera has been monitoring for nearly a year.

In doing so, Northwood Police Chief Jerry Herman said he's hoping to reduce the number of speeding violations and the $90 fine that goes with it.

"We wanted to come up with a way to slow people down and show we're not just about taking money from them," Chief Herman said. "I think that this is an awareness sign. This is one last chance to slow down because you're probably going to get a ticket if you don't."

Even though the number of motorists who were caught speeding at that intersection is small when compared to the number who travel through there, Chief Herman said that he still wanted to find a creative way to get drivers to slow down.

For example, in August, 579,754 vehicles traveled on Woodville through that intersection.

Of those vehicles, 433 were cited for speeding, representing less than 1 percent.

The chief said that he was originally hoping to further reduce the number of violators who receive citations by at least 25 percent after the sign was installed on Oct. 19.

But so far, it's been credited to reducing the number of violations by much more than that. "I didn't expect us to see a 75 percent or greater drop, but that's what we're seeing so far," the chief said.

From April to September this year, there have been more than 200 citations issued each month to motorists who sped past Lemoyne while eastbound on Woodville.

In October, before the sign was installed on Oct. 19, there were 147 citations issued to motorists eastbound on Woodville. For the remainder of the month, when the sign was in place, there were 11 motorists cited for speeding.

After a few more weeks of data collection, Chief Herman said that the city will most likely install another speed awareness sign at the same intersection facing westbound traffic on Woodville.

If the second sign is warranted, the city will use red-light camera revenue to pay for it, as it did with the first one.

"It's just an eye-grabber," said Councilman Randy Kozina, who is chairman of council's safety committee, about the digital sign. "[Motorists] don't pay any attention to speed, but that bright-red flashing sign catches your eye."

Before the sign was installed, the city had already taken steps to curb the number of violations that occur when motorists speed or run a red light at an intersection monitored by a red-light camera.

Along with both sides of Woodville at Lemoyne, cameras watch eastbound Wales Road at Oregon Road and northbound Oregon at Wales.

Several months ago, Chief Herman increased the threshold at which motorists are cited for speeding through Woodville Road.

Before that, city authorities spent $50,000 to install a continuous right-turn lane from eastbound Wales onto southbound Oregon so motorists would not have to stop at the intersection if they're in the far right lane - even with a red light - to help reduce the number of red-light violations.



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