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CAMPBELL Seeing red: Woman says signal is too quick



Published: Wed, May 9, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



By PAUL WHEATLEY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CAMPBELL -- City officials declared the intersection of Coitsville Road and Sixth Street a dangerous one and installed cautionary signs there in April after three accidents occurred in less than 10 days.

Aundrea Anderson said her car was totaled after an accident there April 19. She was six months pregnant at the time and had her 3-year-old son in the car.

They escaped unscathed.

Anderson, of Austintown, blames her accident on the lone traffic signal at the intersection, which she claims is faulty. Two other drivers involved in an accident April 12 blamed the light's timing sequence.

She said she was about 60 feet away from the intersection, traveling about 30 mph west on Coitsville Road, and saw a green light. By the time she was underneath it, however, a van coming from Sixth Street smashed into the driver's side of her vehicle.

Police issued her a ticket for running a red light.

Investigation: Anderson returned to the scene of her accident with a video camera to time the light. She found it took about two seconds to switch from yellow to red. She told The Vindicator that the intersection is dangerous because of the simultaneous switch to red on one street and green on the other.

The Ohio Department of Transportation District 4 office in Ravenna recommends four seconds between a yellow and red light and a two-second time frame where all traffic sees a red light before one side can commence.

But ODOT engineer Ken Greene said the department enforces these recommendations only on state highways, and even then they usually operate on an honor system -- trusting each area is cooperating.

Police Chief Gus Sarigianopoulos believes Anderson timed the light correctly but still doesn't think it's entirely to blame.

His parents were involved in an accident at the dangerous intersection earlier this year.

Speeding blamed: Instead, police and city officials fault speeders, some of whom have been clocked by police at more than 50 miles per hour on Coitsville Road, a 25 mph zone.

Sarigianopoulos said his department gave out 17 speeding tickets over a two-week span in April on Coitsville Road.

But Anderson isn't convinced that speeding is the sole cause. She said she met with the chief and Mayor John Dill, and "it didn't really seem like anybody cared."

Now Anderson spends time analyzing lights all over Mahoning County.

She said Austintown, for example, gives drivers five seconds between yellow and red signals, and two seconds of all red at the lights that she has checked.

Dill said an electric company has been called to investigate the light at the intersection of Coitsville Road and Sixth Street several times this year, but found nothing wrong.

"We understand, that at times, that light may come a little quick, but that's a 25-mile-per-hour zone," said Dill. He also noted there were an estimated 44 accidents that occurred on Coitsville Road last year due to speeding -- and not all of them at the intersection.

"If you're going the speed limit you should be able to slow down without any problem at all."

The traffic signal has been down since Monday, waiting for repairs after it began malfunctioning. Drivers on Sixth Street now have stop signs.

"I think it's ironic and funny, but I'm not surprised," Anderson said of the light's breakdown.




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