Stamping out speeding Safety: Classes are in session again, and Howard County police are targeting speeders in school zones.

August 26, 1998|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Cindy Shumaker, 26, was late for work.

"I'm so sorry," said Shumaker, who dabbed her tearing eyes with tissues while contemplating a $70 ticket for driving 38 mph in a 25 mph zone near Hammond High School in Columbia.

She was one of several dozen drivers stopped by Howard County police yesterday morning as Monday's opening of classes brought stepped-up traffic enforcement around schools.

"I didn't even see [the officer] in the road," Shumaker added. "I was too busy lighting my cigarette."

Howard County police Pfc. George Williams started aiming his laser gun at cars rounding a bend on Eden Brook Drive about 7 a.m. A beep-beep-beep, then buzz emitted from the device before it registered the car's speed on a small display.

Williams and Sgt. A. J. Bellido de Luna stopped 10 cars in about 1 1/2 hours, issuing 11 citations.

Many drivers who were stopped applauded the police presence.

Mike Schettig was clocked going 38 mph in the 25-mph zone.

"You really have to concentrate on going 25," said Schettig, 31, who lives nearby. "They should do this everywhere. Kids are everywhere."

Susan Tyng, 42, whose house is down the road, was pulled over for driving 39 mph.

With two buttered bagel halves resting on her van's passenger seat, Tyng said her children drive to Hammond High. She was on her way to join her foursome for a round of golf.

"I just started at the end of the street," Tyng said. "I think [the speed enforcement] is a good idea, but it would be nice if we got a warning."

Police said their presence is the warning.

"The value isn't in just writing tickets, it's in the visibility," Bellido de Luna said. "It's people in residential zones. It's their kids, friends' kids. They should be acting how they want others to be acting around their kids."

Meanwhile, a few miles away, Howard County police Cpls. Paul Yodzis and Karen Johnson were pulling over 10 cars in front of two schools -- Dasher Green Elementary and Owen Brown Middle -- on Cradlerock Way.

The officers issued three warnings and 12 citations during their morning stint.

Crossing Guard Barbara Cathcart, 37, watched police stop a Mitsubishi sports coupe on Cradlerock Way. Cathcart said cars zip by faster during the first weeks of school.

"Children should cross with crossing guards, not in the middle of the street," she said. "They don't know who will be coming around the corner, how fast [the car] will be going."

Statewide enforcement

Across the state, police agencies plan similar patrols timed to the opening of school. State police will be beefing up traffic enforcement near bus stops. And Anne Arundel County police will be setting up speed traps and looking for seat belt violators next week.

Police and safety experts say there are several steps motorists can take during the school year beyond simply slowing down in school zones; look for shadows under parked cars and scan sidewalks for children who might dart into roadways; drive the headlights on to increase visibility.

Police advise parents to instruct children to choose a route with the fewest streets to cross; go directly to and from school; and, on a road without sidewalks, walk on the left side facing traffic, far from the road.

Traffic lessons

About 8: 45 a.m. on Cradlerock Way, Yodzis was citing the Mitsubishi's driver, Joy Yolanda Richardson, 24, for driving 41 mph in the 30 mph zone.

Inside the car, a 1-year-old girl squirmed in a child safety seat and a passenger listened to a portable stereo.

Yodzis charged Richardson for speeding, not wearing her seat belt and not buckling up her child. The possible fines total $143.

Richardson said she was taking her sister, the passenger, to work. "I already knew this lesson," she said. "I guess I'm learning it again."

Pub Date: 8/26/98

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