Not only should motorists avoid running red lights in Toledo, they shouldn't speed through intersections either.
That's the advice of city police, who yesterday began capturing speeders at six of the city's 13 red-light camera intersections.
Violators will receive a 30-day warning period, which ends Sept. 26. After that, the registered owner of a vehicle nabbed for speeding will have to pay a $95 fine for the civil violation, same as running a red light at that intersection.
Speeding violations will be caught on green, yellow, and red lights. However, violators busted for speeding and running a red light will only receive one $95 ticket. The unmanned cameras will be working overtime, flashing every time a speeder and red-light runner is caught.
"There's gonna be a learning curve for the general public," police Lt. Kevin Keel said.
Testing at the six intersections was done yesterday to make sure everything was cycling correctly and the cameras were focused. The constant flashing prompted hundreds of phone calls questioning what was going on, the lieutenant said.
Police selected the six worst intersections after studying the spots where the city's 21 red-light cameras are located. Red-light cameras at the six intersections were retrofitted for the speed function. The cost was covered by Redflex, the company that manufactures and operates the devices and receives most of the revenues from the citations. The city paid for some needed street work for detector strips installed at the intersections.
Lieutenant Keel said strips in the road detect the speed and tell a computer to activate the program to capture the vehicles. The set-up was determined by a time-and-distance study.
As with the red-light camera violations, those who pay a speeding fine will not incur points on their driving record and their insurance company won't be notified. Motorists who wish can appeal the speeding tickets to a hearing officer.
"[The speed function] is at critical intersections. It's just another tool in our arsenal to get people to slow down and not run red lights. This is for personal safety. It's not for balancing the general fund," said Tom Crothers, the city's acting finance director.
Nonetheless, Mr. Crothers said the city expects to make more than $213,000 just from the speeding facet of the cameras, assuming 9,000 speeding tickets are issued a year.
The city has received more than a quarter of a million dollars in revenue from the red-light cameras between their installation in 2001 and June 30, police Lt. Mike Stachura said.
Toledo received about $25,000 less than expected last year, partly because some of the intersections were under construction. However, revenues have picked up this year, with more than $79,600 received through June.
The city expects to net about $425,000 from the red-light cameras and their speeding component this year, Lieutenant Stachura said.
Since the red-light camera program began, 39,862 citations have been issued. Lieutenant Keel said 581 appeal hearings have been requested. The hearing officer ruled in favor of the appellant 125 times.
"People used to rip through these [intersections]," Mr. Crothers said. "They no longer do that. It has its desired effect."
The intersections with red-light cameras only are: Hill Avenue and Byrne Road, Alexis Road and Lewis Avenue, Airport Highway and Reynolds Road, Dorr Street and Secor Road, Secor and Monroe Street, Secor and Laskey Road, and Summit and Cherry streets.
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