Police on look out for speeders ... and the tab is hefty
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
By Jon Schmitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
City of Pittsburgh Police Officer Theo Sampson writes a citation for speeding on West Carson Street as part of a campaign to raise awareness of dangerous driving habits.
Pittsburgh police Sgt. Terry Donnelly clicked his high-tech stopwatch and spoke into the microphone of his radio.
"White Chrysler minivan, 56. White Chrysler minivan, 56," crackled over the radios of a team of officers down the road.
With that, the holiday season got a bit more expensive for the driver of a speeding vehicle on West Carson Street.
Sgt. Donnelly was tucked in an unmarked cruiser below the Fort Pitt Bridge yesterday, clocking eastbound traffic in a 35-mph zone that is notorious for speeding.
Giving drivers a generous cushion, he radioed ahead to a group of motorcycle officers deployed across from Station Square whenever a vehicle exceeded 50 mph.
He didn't have much down time.
One after another, unsuspecting speeders were clocked by the sergeant and waved into the police roadblock to await their penance.
The woman driving the white minivan, actually a Dodge Caravan, pulled to the side of the road, a cell phone in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
"It tells you she's not paying attention," said Patrolman Demichael Holmes, who issued her a $161.50 speeding citation.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and city police set up the "aggressive driving" checkpoint and invited the news media in a campaign to raise awareness of dangerous driving habits and "get people to slow down and pay attention," Sgt. Donnelly said.
"To save lives," added Officer Holmes.
Similar crackdowns have been staged or are planned for Routes 51 and 65, Banksville Road and West Liberty Avenue, they said.
At one point yesterday, Sgt. Donnelly had clocked 107 drivers and 17 (16 percent) were going at least 15 mph faster than the limit. The fastest was 68 mph.
Jon Schmitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1868.