Much has been said about the use of red light and speed-enforcement cameras installed at various intersections around Toledo, and in other Ohio cities. Some drivers feel the cameras are an unfair way for municipalities to level civil fines and raise money. City officials say they are, first and foremost, a safety measure.
Equipment that catches speeders, even when police are involved, has been debated for decades. This photo plucked from The Blade’s archives shows a new radar sign being checked by Toledo traffic engineer Paul S. Robinette, and Toledo patrolman Cloyce Kirk. These portable signs were developed because of a new law requiring that warnings be posted to give motorists a heads-up that they were approaching a radar control speed zone. This photo was taken Oct. 16, 1953, the day the law took effect. At the time, Toledo police had two radar units that were used 16 hours a day.
Legislation requiring the signs came about because of complaints about mobile speedometers that used radar to log a vehicle’s speed. One radar-equipped patrol car would park on the side of a busy street, such as Monroe or Front streets. As speeders passed by, that patrolman would radio to his partner, usually parked about three blocks away, to let him know a speeder was approaching. The partner would pull the offending motorists over and give them a warning or a ticket. Police pointed out that radar helped do away with dangerous motorcycle chases to catch speeders, but drivers objected to the speed traps, saying they victimized motorists with their sudden and effective way of measuring speed. To address the speed trap stigma, speed zone signs became a requirement.
Toledo was one of the first cities in the nation to adopt the use of radar to deter and catch speeders. A radar unit was demonstrated for city officials on April 29, 1949, and received positive reviews. So Toledo purchased the equipment, and following a two-week testing and warning period for drivers wrote its first speeding tickets based on radar readings January 12, 1950. By July 1, 1,000 speeding tickets had been issued, with $9,613.20 collected in fines.
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