Complaints of speeding bring sheriff's crackdown


Sheriff's deputies have written nearly 200 speeding tickets since March 10 in a crackdown prompted by county residents' complaints.

Sheriff Joseph P. Meadows ordered the crackdown because his agency is receiving about 20 requests a week for special radar patrols, especially from residents complaining that drivers are turning county roads into racetracks.

Deputies cited 105 speeders at four locations Thursday, said Sgt. Wilson Knight, the traffic enforcement supervisor for the sheriff's office.

"We would have had more [Friday], if we hadn't also had accident investigations to do," Sergeant Knight said.

The crackdown will continue, he said.

On Thursday, during a 2 1/2 -hour radar operation set up at 5:30 a.m. in Joppatowne near a school crossing on Joppa Farm Road, deputies issued 55 speeding tickets to drivers exceeding the 30-mph limit, Sergeant Knight said.

"The average speed of the violators was 46.5 mph," he said.

The highest speed recorded was 51 mph, and some offenders also were cited for seat-belt and child-safety-seat violations, he said.

Later that day, Sergeant Knight said, 90-minute radar operations on Main Street in Darlington and Whiteford nabbed 14 and 18 speeders, respectively. Another detail on Bel Air South Parkway netted an additional 18, he said.

During a March 13 operation in Edgewood on Willoughby Beach Road in front of a school complex, deputies cited 40 speeders in a two-hour period for exceeding the posted 25-mph limit by 15 mph to 30 mph, the sergeant said.

He calculated that the violators that day faced penalties of from $60 to $260 in fines and from two to five points on their driving records.

"The speeders we have stopped have been pretty good about it," Sergeant Knight said. "They've been polite for the most part, realizing they were, in fact, driving too fast."

The speeders' most common excuse is that they are late for work, the sergeant said. "Maybe they should just leave home five minutes earlier."

While some of the public complaints have suggested that teen-age drivers are the worst offenders, the radar operations generally prove otherwise, the sergeant said.

"Everyone stopped on Willoughby Beach Road in Edgewood was over 21," he said. Most were residents of the neighborhood where complaints originated, he added.

"We had some teen-agers on Joppa Farm Road [Thursday], but most were adults and from the neighborhood," he said.

Deputies frequently move their radar operations from site to site, trying within a few days to respond to every complaint received.

Sergeant Knight said other areas generating complaints include Tollgate Road, Ring Factory Road, Singer Road and Henderson Road, all in the Bel Air area.

West Jarrettsville Road in Forest Hill, North Bend Road in Jarrettsville and Hookers Mill Road in Abingdon also are trouble spots, he said.

Sheriff's deputies target Harford County roads, while Maryland State Police are concerned primarily with state roads and highways.

Lt. Earl Bredenburg, commander of the Bel Air state police barracks, said his troopers also use radar operations when responding to complaints from the public about speeders.

"We always place a high emphasis on curtailing speeders," the lieutenant said. "Recently, we've been trying to crack down on drunk drivers.

"We've already arrested more than 150 this year and still have a little more than a week to go before the first-quarter ends," he said.

Troopers from the Bel Air barracks made 108 drunken-driving arrests during the first three months of 1994, he said.

Sergeant Knight said sheriff's deputies also will be taking an aggressive approach to drunken-driving complaints, periodically saturating areas with extra patrols to look for erratic drivers.

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