The News-Herald, April 27
The callous disregard that many drivers have for speed limits was vividly illustrated recently when the Ohio Highway Patrol conducted enforcement on a section of Route 2 in Mentor.
A News-Herald story focused on a speed detail performed by the OHP that involved an airplane checking motorists’ speeds accompanied by patrol cars on the ground.
The Ohio Highway Patrol has been collecting speed, crash and traffic volume data on state Route 2 for the past three years in the area that spans from Heisley Road to Route 615.
However, this year the Mentor Air Speed Zone, as the area is classified, has been put at the front of its focus. The OHP, in collaboration with the Mentor Police Department, has been conducting speed details by air.
“The area of focus for these operations has primarily been for crash-causing violations involving (unsafe speed, following too close, aggressive lane changes),” said Sgt. Jeremy Kindler of the OHP Chardon Post.
And those violations have been spotted quite frequently.
Since the operations started in March, and through April 16, when a News-Herald reporter watched the speed detail in action from the OHP’s plane, officers on the ground had made contact with 56 violators, Kindler said.
Kindler explained that the “air speed” detail serves a dual purpose of protecting motorists as well as troopers at ground level who are conducting enforcement.
“The officers are safely parked off the side of the highway and the plane radios the vehicles to stop,” he said. “The plane will follow the cars until the ground officer has successfully initiated a traffic stop in a safe area for officer, violator and public traveling on the highway.”
It would have been an understatement to say that the officers kept busy during an early morning speed detail on April 16.
There were four units on the ground that issued 15 speed citations within an hour. Within the first six minutes of the flight, all four troopers were issuing speed citations.
The speeds for which these citations were written ranged from 80 mph to 106 mph. To put it in perspective, the speed limit for this stretch of highway is 60 mph.
In two of the instances where an officer pulled a motorist over for speeding, there were also citations issued for driving under suspension. One of those motorists was taken into custody and had his vehicle towed when officers found drugs and seized them for testing.
The pilot, OHP Trooper Milan Milosevic, continued clocking traffic while the troopers were busy.
The four units on the ground could not keep up with the number of speeding motorists the pilot clocked, including three vehicles doing speeds of 90, 92 and 93 mph, all within a minute of each other.
At one point during the flight, Milosevic noted that there appeared to be no one traveling anywhere near the legal speed limit.
It’s clear to us that the OHP’s plane serves as an effective enforcement tool for areas such as the one being studied on Route 2 in Mentor.
According to Kindler, the plane is used for details like this because of the pilot’s ability to spot multiple violators at the same time, while units on the ground may only be able to observe one or two violations. Such was the case during the April 16 detail when the pilot observed seven cars at one time traveling more than 70 mph.
The OHP, in its efforts to make the roadways safer, plans to continue its collaboration with Mentor police in monitoring this area and hopes to do so on a weekly basis.
“Anytime you have an unsafe speed in addition to aggressive lane changes and following too close, it increases the likelihood of crashes.” Kindler said.
We commend both law enforcement agencies for working together on this effort. While they are producing some impressive results, it’s also a bit scary to think about how many motorists drive at dangerously high speeds on Route 2 and get away with it. It’s unfortunate that some of these drivers probably will never learn their lesson about the hazards of speeding until they are involved in a serious crash. And if that happens, it might be too late to prevent someone from being injured or killed.