Motorists are most likely to get caught speeding in Akron school zones on Tuesdays.
They’re also most likely to get popped between 2:30 and 3 p.m.
And they’re usually going 32 mph in the 20 mph zones.
Those are a few of the noteworthy findings in a new report from American Traffic Solutions, which runs Akron’s traffic camera enforcement program.
The Tempe, Ariz., company mailed out 17,925 citations for speeding in Akron last year. Each ticket is $100.
Speeding and red-light camera programs around the state increasingly are coming under fire. Recent court rulings have put programs in jeopardy and state legislators are debating a bill that would crimp the ability to operate them. The Traffic Safety Coalition says 15 communities in Ohio use the cameras.
Judge Michael J. Sage in Butler County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday ordered the village of Hamilton to stop the camera use, citing a problem with “due process.”
The Beacon Journal requested data from the city on the camera program, including locations where motorists were most cited and the time of day when the most violations occurred.
Instead of providing raw data, American Traffic Solutions released a report through the city, answering the newspaper’s questions.
The company analyzed data from November 2012 through December 2013, saying it was unable to provide information before that because of “all new technology.”
Akron has run its program since 2005 when a 10-year-old boy was struck and killed by a hit-skip driver as he walked to school. The boy pushed his 6-year-old sister out of the path of the speeding car.
The cameras — there are six of them — operate only in school zones and only when the yellow warning lights are flashing, said Akron police Lt. Richard Decatur, who directs where the cameras are deployed.
According to the report, motorists were most likely to be caught speeding north on Gorge Boulevard outside North High School (12 percent) and east on East Exchange Street outside Mason Community Learning Center (11 percent).
Heading west on East Exchange outside Mason also was the ninth most popular location (3 percent).
The others in the top five were:
• Eastbound on West Market Street outside Judith Resnik Community Learning Center.
• Southbound on Kelly Avenue outside the Seiberling and Phoenix schools.
• Westbound on West Tallmadge Avenue outside Findley Community Learning Center.
The Kelly Avenue zone was done away with last month when Seiberling and Phoenix moved to other locations.
The company did not provide the actual number of citations outside each school. But 12 percent of the overall 19,489 tickets given out in the 14-month period would be 2,338.
‘Safety is safety’
Denny Bechter, a worker at United Refrigeration across the street from Mason, is one of the drivers who received a ticket.
“It’s not a bad idea,” he said about the cameras. “Safety is safety. Once you get popped, you think about it. I haven’t been busted again.”
But his company also is in an unfortunate spot — it’s located in the middle of the school zone. When workers or customers leave, they don’t see the yellow flashing lights that warn that the school zone is active.
The company put up a handmade sign on the exit to remind people: “School zone. Watch your speed.”
Bechter, who lives in Cuyahoga Falls, questioned why the camera is positioned at the bottom of a hill away from the actual school building, noting that it’s difficult to even coast down the hill at 20 mph.
He said it would be better if the city sent out a warning letter for a first offense instead of a $100 ticket.
City officials said the cameras generated $670,355 in revenue during the 2012-13 school year. Meanwhile, Akron received $495,910 from August through December of last year. (Not everyone pays, despite the city’s best efforts to collect.)
The city pays American Traffic Solutions $19 for each citation.
The cameras are placed outside North High and Mason more often than other schools because motorists keep speeding there, Decatur said.
“We don’t want students hit by cars going to or from school,” he said.
Among the other findings:
• Fifty-three percent of all violations have been issued to vehicles registered in Akron.
• Most violations occurred in May (2,502) and September (2,470).
• The top speed recorded was 62 mph. “That is someone who has a total disregard for children,” Decatur said. The report notes that motorists are cited only if they are traveling at least 28 mph or faster.
• Over the 14-month period studied, only 5 percent of people received more than one citation.
Decatur couldn’t explain why Tuesday is the most popular day for citations (4,263).
He surmised that schools are off many Mondays for holidays. Indeed, the fewest number of citations were issued on Monday (3,215).
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com.