Originally published March 5, 2018 at 1:18 a.m., updated March 5, 2018 at 1:18 a.m.
By ED RUNYAN
After a month of warnings mailed to speeders in Howland Township, the police department’s new traffic cameras will go online this week with fines.
Starting Tuesday, citations will cost $150 in school zones and work zones and $100 in other areas.
The cameras will work like those in several other area departments – officers will staff laser guns, and the equipment will record photographs of the alleged speeder. The data will be sent to Blue Line Solutions of Tennessee, the provider of the cameras, and Blue Line will mail citations, after they are reviewed by Howland police.
The citations will be civil penalties, meaning no criminal offense is associated with it, no points are added to drivers’ records, and insurance companies won’t be notified, police Chief Nick Roberts said.
Under Ohio law, driver’s must be at least 9 mph over the speed limit to get a citation with the traffic cameras and 6 mph in school zones, Roberts said.
There has been negative feedback since Howland announced the township will use the devices, but Roberts said he believes the system will make Howland roads safer and improve driver behavior.
“We hope to slow people down,” Roberts said, especially in areas where crashes are the most prevalent, such as state Route 82 at Howland Wilson Road.
“A lot of people speed through that intersection,” Roberts said. By having a police presence there, police expect to reduce the speed of drivers, which Roberts thinks will reduce crashes.
A similar problem area is the nearby intersection of state Route 82 and state Route 46. Both intersections are part of the traffic to and from the Eastwood Mall area.
Roberts said drivers’ knowledge that Howland is using the cameras might also cause them to pay more attention to their driving.
“This will take away a lot of driver distraction because people are going to set their phone down,” he said. “They’re going to know, ‘well we’re coming through Howland ... and we know they have traffic cameras, so I’m going to pay attention to my speedometer instead of my cellphone and watch my speed and watch the road.’”
The township had 733 motor-vehicle crashes in 2017, 223 of them involving injuries. “We want to reduce that number,” Roberts said.
The department will also continue to respond to complaints from the public about speeding, Roberts said. Among the common complaint areas are North Road, state Route 46 and Howland Wilson Road.
“I’ve had people in the lobby literally screaming about speeding,” Roberts said of the police station.
The cameras have produced between 30 and 125 warnings per day during the warning period, but Roberts said it’s difficult to tell whether the warnings have had an effect on driver behavior.
Roberts said Blue Line will pay to have an additional Howland officer working traffic and also be available for other calls starting Tuesday.