School zone speeders: Northeast Ohio drivers breaking the speed limit caught on camera

CLEVELAND - NewsChannel5 investigators have uncovered drivers breaking the speed limit in school zones around Northeast Ohio.

We followed police patrolling school zones in five cities, including Cleveland, Elyria, Mentor, Parma and Willoughby.

In each city, we quickly found drivers going faster than the 20 mph school zone speed limit. In some cases, the drivers speed was clocked at close to 40 mph.

At the intersection of Snow Road and State Road outside St. Francis De Sales in Parma, we watched as a photo radar camera installed in a police van helped patrolman Mike Tellings ticket 31 speeders in approximately 60 minutes.

Tellings said Parma police only use photo radar cameras in school zones. The cameras takes photos of a driver's car and license plate when they drive 28 mph or faster. The car's owner then receives the ticket in the mail.

Cleveland patrolman Dave Walter ticketed drivers the old-fashioned way.

Walter pulled over four drivers speeding at least 10 miles over the speed limit outside Case Elementary on Superior Ave. during 45 minutes the school zone could be enforced.

"It's not difficult to determine who's your speeder. It's generally the car that's out front by itself," said Walter.

In Willoughby, patrolman Chuck Kresja gave some speeders a break because it was the first day of school. He ticketed one driver and gave two other drivers warnings.

"Just please slow it down for us," said Kresja to one driver.

It only took about 20 minutes for Mentor Police Sgt. Mike Klosky to clock two drivers going too fast near Memorial Middle School. Like Kresja, he opted to give them written warnings. He said both drivers admitted their mistakes.

Though flashing yellow lights let speeders know the school zone was in effect, drivers we watched get pulled over all said they didn't realize they were in a school zone until it was too late.

"I thought it was a 35 and I wasn't going very far over that so I thought it was the normal speed," said Troy Benjamin, who was caught speeding near Case Elementary in Cleveland.

"Didn't look right. Didn't look left. Just focused straight ahead and didn't realize it was a school zone," said Mark Percassi, who was caught speeding in a school zone in Mentor.

The cost of a school zone speeding ticket varies, depending on the driver's speed and the city. But they're not cheap. For example, in Parma, a photo radar speeding ticket can cost up to $200, according to Tellings.

The times of school zones also vary, depending on a school's hours. Officers said drivers should always slow down near schools during the 30 minutes before and after a school day.

"It only takes a second to make a mistake that affects your life or your child's life," said Kresja.

Watch Sarah Buduson's story Thursday night on NewsChannel5 at 11 p.m.

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