Police crack down on early morning speeders
Story comments (if available)
Add to Facebook
Find more services
By JOSHUA STEWART, Staff Writer
Published April 11, 2008
For police officers, speed enforcement is a bit like fishing, minus the nightcrawlers.
They need a quiet, unobtrusive spot, specialized equipment and a bit of patience. Coffee helps, too.
But at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter what they do, going home with a catch ultimately depends on a foolish decision by another creature.
And Western District police officers are hoping to stop one foolish critter, the aggressive driver, with the new Don't Rush Hour program. The first six days resulted in 20 tickets, 80 warnings, five repair orders and one arrest for driving without a license.
Intended to curb speeders in the pre-dawn hours, the crackdown is focused on various locations in the district, including Route 3 in Crofton and Route 198 in Laurel, two popular thoroughfares for suburbanites on their way to work in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Fort George G. Meade.
Those roads are no stranger to backups during the regular rush hour, but are open roads before sunrise - a perfect condition for speeding, said Lt. Herbert Hasenpusch, a county police officer who runs the Western District midnight shift.
And like fishing, the day starts early; officers are in their cruisers, radar guns in hand at 4:30 a.m.
"There's one right there," said Sgt. Sheyn Brezniak, as he watched a patrol officer dart from the Route 198 median near Laurel Park.
And it begins. It's not the whiz of test line flying off a reel, but the vroom of a Crown Victoria police cruiser.
The patrolman hooked a Mercury Mountaineer when not 30 seconds later, another officer who was hidden in the same location snagged an SUV. After pulling the drivers over, the officers moved back into position, briefly.
"I got a 62," one officer said, before pulling away and turning on his lights, again. And like before, another patrolman follows, on the heels of a sedan headed toward the county line on a foggy Wednesday.
At times as many as five of the 12 officers on patrol in Western District were involved in a traffic stop, while many of the others were in parking lots, hidden behind signs or around blind turns, keeping watch.
"Car. Right there, waiting," Sgt. Brezniak said, pointing to a hard-to-see cruiser in an unlit lot on Route 170.
The Waugh Chapel and Route 3 intersection in Gambrills saw its fair share of action. In a 30-minute window on Wednesday, one officer had pulled over three different drivers.
"It's been a short period of time and we see a pattern already," Sgt. Brezniak said.
The Don't Rush Hour program is based on patterns. Every day it seems to be the same problem, speeding in the same locations. People are headed to work, like they have hundreds of times before, and know the roads well, making them comfortable with higher speeds, Lt. Hasenpusch said.
"You could probably go out there every morning at 5:25, pick out that same car, every morning," he said.
And these early commuters are able to go faster on open roads than their normal rush-hour counterparts, which contributes to accidents, he said.
According to state data, on Route 3 between Route 32 and the county line, there were 231 car crashes in 2006, the most in at least the past three years. On Route 198 between Route 32 and the county line, there were 58, down from 82 in 2005.
These two roads had the most crashes in Western District, with a noticeable amount in the early morning, Lt. Hasenpusch said.
The early morning enforcement may be helpful because rush hour no longer bookends the typical work schedule, said Christine Delise, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. Bosses are more flexible with their employees' hours, allowing them to arrive and leave earlier, or come late and stay late. Additionally, some people, particularly in the metropolitan-Washington area, are leaving home earlier to dodge traffic jams, she said.
"The traditional 9-to-5 is no longer the norm," she said.
Next Top Story
Top Stories Page