High speeds bring high fines on Hwy. 231

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 25, 2000

Staff Writer

June 24, 2000 10 PM

Can you imagine driving 100 miles per hour on U.S. 231 in Troy?

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Officers with the Troy Police Department can.

An officer recently ticketed an individual for driving 99 mph in a 55 mph zone on U.S. 231. Another driver was ticketed for driving 70 mph in a 40 zone on Alabama 87 and, yet another was clocked going 85 in a 40 on U.S. 231 near Subway, which is one of the most highly conjested areas on the highway.

After beginning a push to stop speeding in the city, the police department is cracking down by running radar at different locations in the city.

Sgt. Tim Hunter, who returned from radar instructor school in March, is ready to train other officers so they, too, can help to stop speeding and, possibly, save lives.

Although radars are used in most cases, Hunter said officers are able to follow a driver and use a "pace clock" to determine their speed since all officers have certified speedometers.

"You’ll see more radar being run, not only on U.S. 231, but all over our city limits," Hunter said.

He knows how fast these people are travelling and has seen what can happen if they don’t slow down.

He said the goal isn’t to just write tickets, rather it’s to cut down on accidents.

"Drivers’ reaction time slows down the faster they go," Hunter said. "Our job is to protect the public."

After stopping someone on U.S. 231, Hunter has been known to ask the driver if he or she saw the two crosses in the median near The Dodge Store. When the driver replies in the affirmative, he reminds the individual the next cross placed could bear his or her name or the name of a loved one.

"There are a lot of people out there who are doing what’s right and can be victimized," said Sgt. Benny Scarbrough, public information officer for the police department.

Scarbrough said those stopped should think of it this way ­ "a day in court as opposed to picking out a coffin."

If cited for speeding, a driver could be fined $119 for travelling less than 25 mph over the speed limit and $139 for driving 25 mph over the posted limit.

"If you’re going to speed, it’s going to cost you," Scarbrough said.

Hunter said a vast majority of the tickets her writes ­ like the ones issued Friday morning on Shellhorn Road ­ are to adult drivers.

As of June 13, 41 citations for speeding had been issued just in the months of May and June and those figures are increasing along with the speeds of drivers.

The third driver Hunter stopped on Shellhorn Road was travelling 67 mph in a 45 mph zone near where men were working along the roadway.

"The public is asking us to do this," Hunter said, adding he’s only heard one complaint regarding the department’s action to stop speeding.

In addition to writing speeding tickets, officers are also on the lookout for those running red lights.

Hunter said those two violations often go hand in hand and there have been fatalities in Troy that were the result of running red lights.

Between January and June 19, 66 tickets for running red lights were written and more than half of those were writtenin May and June.

Enforcement lights that give officers the abilty to tell if a traffic light is red from almost any vantage point were installed at five intersections on U.S. Highway 231 earlier this year.

In other words, the days of an officer sitting in plain view and catching a driver running a red light are no longer.

A grant awarded to Southeast Alabama Emergency Medical Services Council in Dothan by Daimler-Chrysler allowed the purchase of new technology that should cut down on those darting through red lights.

The equipment makes it easier for officers to observe and stop offenders. What happens is a clear bulb lights up when a traffic signal turns red. Having that clear bulb allows officers to know when a driver runs a red light even without seeing the light actually change.

Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage said having his officers monitoring speed and red lights is an effort to ensure the safety of Troy residents and visitors to the city.