In a 50-hour period Dayton police spotted 547 speeders in the Interstate 75 construction zone through downtown — a number so large that veteran traffic officers were surprised.
The special photo-enforcement effort operated from Oct. 29 until Oct. 31. It follows a number of crashes in the zone that shut down the highway for hours at a time.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 169 people died in vehicle crashes in Ohio construction work zones in the 10-year period from 2002 to 2011.
Dayton Police Det. Jason Ward said Wednesday that enforcement ran for 50 hours and 28 minutes. The speed camera targeted southbound traffic. In all, 49,082 vehicles were assessed.
Police gave speeders a warning, posting the enforcement zone in advance using an electronic billboard. They also allowed some leeway, only citing drivers who hit 60 mph or higher in the 45 mph construction zone. The highest recorded speed was 89 mph.
Some drivers lucked out and escaped being cited for various reasons.
Those included camera images that were too dark, having a license plate obscured by another vehicle or because the plate was obstructed.
For those reasons and others, only 273 have been cited with tickets so far, Ward said. Violations earn drivers an $85 ticket. The city takes $50 of that and contractor RedFlex Traffic Systems, which processes the camera results in Phoenix, Ariz., receives $35.
Besides avoiding wrecks, driving the 45 mph limit keeps traffic flowing, police said.
“If people do the 45 mph speed limit and everyone flows normally, we won’t have the backups like we do in the mornings,” Ward said. “People cut in and out of traffic and people hit the brakes. We call it the rubber-band effect.”
The photo-enforcement camera will be deployed this week at Ohio 4 and Ohio 444, a location that’s also been a speeding hotspot, Ward said.
That doesn’t mean drivers through the I-75 zone are off the hook. Dayton police will be deploying a new specially-designed photo-enforcement camera mounted on a trailer.
It’ll be exclusively devoted to construction zones around Dayton, Ward said. It can peek over concrete barriers using an extending arm. Expect to see it in operation in the next two weeks.
“That will be a more permanent fixture up there,” Ward said. “It is designed for work zones.”
The camera could be operating for some time. The I-75 rebuild through downtown is not scheduled to be completed until 2017.
WHIO-TV reporter John Bedell contributed to this report.