Speeding excessive on Ohio 7

MARTINS FERRY – The impending modifications to the intersection of Ohio 7 and Hanover St. should help some in curtailing the high rate of accidents that occur at one of the more dangerous intersections on the road.

The usage of a red-arrow for the northbound turning lane onto Hanover St. will help some.

The additions of a turning late heading southbound onto Hanover will help even more. But that’s not coming until 2016 at the earliest.

In the meantime, officers with the Martins Ferry Police Department are doing their part to help curb the issue by tackling what seems to be the prevailing cause of accidents, at least in the southbound lanes of travel … speed.

“A lot of those accidents have to do with speeding,” Martins Ferry Mayor Paul Riethmiller explained. “Drivers are traveling too fast and are unable to stop in time and end up rear-ending the car in front of them.”

Martins Ferry officers have been standing in the middle of the footbridge that spans atop Ohio 7 just north of the intersection of Ohio 7 and Hanover St.

It’s a two-man system. One officers, utilizing a laser-reading system, clocks the speed of oncoming drivers as they approach the intersection.

Those clocked going in excess of the speed limit have their vehicle description given via radio to a second officer waiting to pull them over.

Riethmiller noted that in one month, 192 people came before him during mayor’s court. Of that total, 168 were cited for speeding on Ohio 7.

“I just don’t get it,” Riethmiller admitted. “They know we are up there. They see a guy standing there and come into court and say they weren’t speeding.”

The laser system, according to Riethmiller, is more difficult to pinpoint on a vehicle. But on the other hand, there is far less error in reading the correct vehicle.

The laser has to be targeted on the license plate of a particular vehicle. One a reading is taken, the first officer has the rate of speed and the distance from the gun to the vehicle.

Riethmiller noted while 50 miles per hour is the speed limit, he asked the officers to give some leeway in how fast a car can be traveling before being pulled over.

And yet … “The average speed of people who are pulled over and taken to mayor’s court is 64 mpg,” Riethmiller said. “They are getting pulled over on (Ohio) 7 going at least 14 miles over the speed limit.

“We’ve had people driving in the 70s, the 80s and have had two since I’ve been in office travelling 90. Last week, we clocked someone going 93.”

Cars traveling southbound in excess are having difficulty stopping when approaching the red light at the intersection.

Worse, the light is green, but a car is still sitting in the turning lane on Hanover, unable to complete its turn because of traffic.

Cars that are speeding are unable to slow down in time, or, the driver is not paying attention and doesn’t see the car unable to turn.

The results have been rear-end collisions.

For northbound traffic, drivers are trying to beat the light and barrel down on the gas pedal when approaching the intersection. After all, it’s the last traffic light drivers will see between Martins Ferry and Steubenville. It’s smooth sailing in between.

Throw in distracted driver issues, including texting, cell phone calls, messing with the radio … any number of distractions … and the problem only increases.

So while help is on the way, the laser on the bridge will provide another tool for law enforcement to try and minimize the accidents.

Hughes may be reached at mhughes@timesleaderonline.com