Northwood motorists thinking they can sneak a right turn on a red light without stopping first had better think again.
It's been just under a month since the warning period ended for Northwood's four traffic-light cameras, which were installed at the beginning of January to monitor the intersections of Woodville and Lemoyne roads, and Wales and Oregon roads to catch speeders, motorists who run red lights, and those who don't stop before turning right on red.
The cameras have snapped pictures for more than 3,380 violations since the warning period ended, Northwood Police Chief Jerry Herman said, adding that more than 700 citations have been issued so far, and the rest have been rejected or are in the validation process.
Motorists are being ticketed the most for running red lights from the camera that watches Wales at Oregon, Chief Herman said. "That one is really causing us the biggest problem."
There have been more than 1,300 red-light violations at that intersection alone since the warning period ended on Feb. 13, he said. More than 525 citations have been issued, about 470 have been rejected, and the rest are going through the validation process.
Chief Herman said many of the citations come from motorists failing to make a complete stop before turning right on red from Wales to Oregon. The cameras will flash if motorists roll over the stop bar painted on the road because the cameras predict that the motorists will fail to stop. Yet, those motorists will not be issued a $90 ticket if the video cameras that also watch the intersections show a complete stop.
"If they're rolling the stop, they're being cited," Chief Herman said. "People are flying up there and turning right on red without stopping. The people that are cited clearly are violating the law."
Mayor Mark Stoner said motoriststorists need to stop before turning for their own safety and the safety of others. "I see people roll stops every day and it kind of aggravates me," he said. "I think the laws are there for a reason, and people should abide by the law."
Though many people roll over the stop line to pause before turning, Chief Herman said he wants to curb that practice.
"Our goal is to get people to stop at the stop line and then proceed," he said. "As long as they stop, they're not going to be cited. We're trying to get people to stop so they don't go into the intersection and get hit by another car."
During the cameras' warning period, which was from Jan. 14 to Feb. 14, Chief Herman said 4,741 violations occurred at both intersections. Of those violations, 3,279 warnings were issued.
The other 1,462 violations were rejected because Chief Herman said there are 21 factors that officers use in discarding a violation, which could include an obstructed plate, a sun glare, a camera malfunction, or a motorist turning right on red after first making a complete stop.
The cameras were installed to monitor each side of Woodville at Lemoyne and to watch eastbound Wales and northbound Oregon because of the high volume of traffic crashes at those intersections.
There were 305 car accidents in Northwood last year, down from 371 crashes in 2003, and almost 20 percent of those crashes each year occurred at the two intersections the cameras monitor.
City officials plan to continue to evaluate the cameras to determine whether other city intersections would benefit from them.
Until then, Chief Herman said he ordered a mobile speed van for speed enforcement to try and reduce crashes at other locations through out the city.
He hopes to have the unmarked unit that will be manned by civilian employees ready to go by June.
All of Toledo's 20 red-light cameras have the capability to ticket motorists for rolling stops.