Middletown Schools have been in session for a few weeks, but drivers apparently are still speeding through school zones like it’s summer.
“We get so many complaints about speeding in school zones,” said Middletown Police Major David Birk. “This year we are being proactive with enforcement.”
In the past week, officers have been stationed in 13 school zones throughout the city, primarily in the morning, running radar and issuing citations for drivers travelling more than the posted 20 mph speed limit.
“We had (a driver) on University (Boulevard) going 64 (mph),” Birk said.
The speeding blitz utilizes Middletown officers and Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers from each department’s midnight and day shifts.
“We are bringing some early for days and keep some over from midnights to cover it,” Birk said. The officers are stationed in the school zones from about 6 to 8 a.m. and also in the afternoon at some locations.
Officers stationed in two different zones wrote tickets to 11 violators on Wednesday. Officer Kim Robinson was holding a radar gun on Breiel Boulevard near Middletown High School on Friday morning when she issued about five citations in a short time.
Unlike some speed enforcement, there is is no “wiggle room” in a school zone, Birk said. A driver traveling 21 mph will get a ticket, but Birk said most are going more that 10 to 20 mph over the speed limit.
“This is about student safety. The reason it was set at 20 miles per hour is for the safety of children. The reaction time is much better at that speed than if you are going 50 or 60. Absolutely no leeway in a school zone,” Birk said.
Speeding in a school zone is not only dangerous, but also pricey.
A normal speeding ticket in Middletown Municipal Court, for a first offense, is $25, according to Steve Longworth, director of court services. For speeding in a school zone, the tab goes up to $100. Both tickets also require payment of court costs.
Longworth said Thursday, the court has received 15 tickets for speeding in a school zone. All defendants are due in court next month.
The total number of tickets issued during the first week of the blitz will not be tallied until Monday.
Officers will be out running radar again Monday for another week, according to Birk.
Middletown Schools’ 6,300 students returned to classes Sept. 4, later than all other Butler County public schools due to the district’s most expensive construction project in its history — a new Middletown Middle School and a renovated and expanded Middletown High School. The $96 million transformation was two years in the making.