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Officers get tough on speeders

July 15, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Many motorists might be surprised to receive a ticket for exceeding the speed limit by one or two mph.

But that could happen on state roads in Washington County if Maryland State Police Capt. Rob Turano has his way.

Patrol officers from the state police barracks in Hagerstown are expected this week to start an aggressive enforcement initiative that will target drivers who exceed the speed limit, Turano said.

The initiative is to last for a month to 45 days.

Turano said he is frustrated that an increasing number of local drivers do not take the posted speed limits seriously.

More people speeding more often increases the likelihood of crashes, because faster speeds cut down on reaction time, Turano said.

"People are speeding more frequently and there is no compliance whatsoever," Turano said.

Turano said the majority of the drivers cited for speeding in Washington County were traveling in excess of 80 mph when spotted by police. He said increases in the speed limit from 55 mph to 65 mph in recent years have not appeared to reduce the number of offenders on area roads.

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Turano said the most frequent questions he and fellow officers face from people in the community relate to how fast they can go without being cited.

"That's the number one question we get," he said. "People want to know what they can get away with."

Depending on the resources state police can muster for the efforts, patrol officers will rely on higher visibility in the form of additional patrols by marked police cars and more coverage from the use of unmarked police vehicles, Turano said. He said police not only will be more visible, but will be less tolerant when dealing with speeders.

In fact, drivers potentially could get a speeding ticket for driving 66 mph on Interstate 81, one mph over the limit, he said.

"The bottom line is the motoring public needs to know the speed limit is 65," he said. "And if you're going 85 and you're 'just following traffic,' does that mean you shouldn't be cited?"

Turano says no.

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