Heath begins traffic-camera enforcement

No more warnings; violators get $100 fines

By KENT MALLETT • Advocate Reporter • July 1, 2009

HEATH — The warning period has ended and motorists driving through Heath on Wednesday started earning real citations costing $100 each.

The city’s 10 traffic-enforcement cameras, installed on Hebron Road and 30th Street, began catching speeders and red-light runners, who will receive citations and photos of the violation in the mail.

Heath Police Chief Tony Shepherd did not know how many motorists triggered the camera on the first day, but the bright strobe light could be a tip to those wondering if they were caught.

If the June warning period is an accurate indication, Phoenix-based Redflex Traffic Systems will be busy notifying violators caught on its cameras.

Shepherd reported the seven cameras operating all month at signaled intersections triggered 646 photos resulting in 474 warning letters so far, and 74 more yet to be reviewed by police.

Those totals reflect only red-light violations. Another 400-plus photos were taken of potential speeders, but police have reviewed only a fraction of those and approved 17 for a warning letter.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Shepherd said of the potential for 900 to 1,000 violations in a month. “Yea, that’s a lot, but traveling that (Hebron Road) every day in an unmarked car, I see a lot of violations.”

The camera at Hebron and Hopewell roads and the speed-only camera at Hebron Road and Coffman Boulevard were not installed at the beginning of the month and not included in the statistics.

“I spoke with the mayor of Chillicothe and he said they had about 1,000 a month in the first two months and about 400 last month,” Heath Mayor Richard Waugh said. “I am somewhat surprised, but the police officers are not.”

The mayor said the goal of the cameras is to reduce crashes, which numbered 364 on Hebron Road and 30th Street, combined, in 2007 and 321 in 2008.

“Twelve months from now, we ought to see a significant decrease in accidents, and I mean 30 to 40 percent,” Waugh said.

One camera recorded a flatbed truck going through an intersection about 37 mph 1.17 seconds after the light turned red, following a yellow light duration of 4 to 5 seconds, Waugh said.

“If somebody had pulled out (in front of the truck), that could have been a disaster,” Waugh said.

The intersection with the most red-light violations in June was at Hebron and Heath roads (Bob Evans restaurant, Duke & Duchess station), where 302 photos were taken, resulting in 232 warning letters sent with 26 more to be reviewed.