I-Team: Why the sudden spike in speed camera tickets?

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(WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has found the number of speed camera tickets skyrocketing in one town even at a time with a lot less traffic on the road due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

We found Newburgh Heights police sending out nearly four times as many tickets with speed cameras as officers did during the same period last year. The increase totals more than 8,000 tickets.

Newburgh Heights police have become notorious for having an officer with a speed camera stand on an exit ramp along I-77.

Drivers get tickets from speed cameras in the mail weeks after they get caught speeding. In Newburgh Heights, the tickets carry $150 fines.

Japonica Hawk got caught doing 74 mph where the speed limit is 60.

She reacted by saying, “If they clock me speeding, come after me. Pull me over. They shouldn’t be sitting up there hiding, taking pictures, trying to get money for their city.”

We asked Newburgh Heights Mayor Trevor Elkins to explain why we’re seeing nearly four times as many tickets.

**More I-Team investigations during the coronavirus pandemic**

He said, “People are driving more irresponsibly than they were during the same period last year.”

He added, “People don’t think they need to follow the law. COVID-19 is not an excuse for breaking the rules.”

We’ve recently shown you, the Ohio Highway Patrol is stopping more speeders going more than 100mph.

But while Newburgh Heights police largely take pictures and send out fines, troopers pull over the most dangerous drivers.

Last week, a highway patrol sergeant said troopers felt they had an obligation to make traffic stops of those drivers for the safety of everyone.

Meanwhile, the patrol and many police agencies including Cleveland police are making only a fraction of their normal overall number of traffic stops to limit contact with people and control the spread of the coronavirus.

The I-Team also requested any traffic studies done by Newburgh Heights. We got only a few stats — nothing about accidents or other safety data.

But, we noticed Newburgh Heights found more people speeding on the highway than the year before. That made us also wonder if those speed cameras are really making a difference with the number of speeders going up.

Japonica Hawk admitted, “It’s not OK. I shouldn’t be speeding.”
But she also believes getting a fine weeks later says more about a town collecting money than improving safety.

She said, “They need to find a way to boost their economy up without taking us down.”                                                                                                                                       
No matter how you see it, if you drive through Newburgh Heights, be aware nearly four times as many drivers are now getting surprises in the mail from the speed cameras.

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