Benwood Police Chief Frank Longwell said the goal of a recent week-long highway safety blitz in the city was to slow down drivers and curb speeding, and wasn't an effort to generate revenue by Benwood.
Benwood police pulled more than 263 motorists during a week-long highway safety blitz in the city, and 223 of the drivers were cited for speeding or other driving infractions, according to Longwell. The other 40 motorists were let off with a warning.
"I don't think we'll ever stop speeding, but it is our job to make the highways safe," he said. "It upsets me when someone says this was nothing but a speed trap. The speed limit (on W.Va. 2) is clearly marked at 55 miles per hour. My officer is not making you go 30 mph over the speed limit - you are. His job is to certify your speed."
Photo by Joselyn King
Benwood police Capt. Bryan Handzus, left, and Chief Frank Longwell examine the results from the recent highway safety blitz in the city.
Longwell said drivers typically must be driving at least 66 mph - 11 miles per hour over the posted speed limit - to be pulled over by an officer.
"It was a successful roundup, but I wish there could have been 100 percent compliance," he said. "We had the Valley talking, and I believe we made some awareness."
The highway blitz took place June 12 through June 19, focusing on W.Va. 2 through Benwood.
The Governor's Highway Safety Program provided $2,700 to fund overtime pay for the program, according to Longwell.
At least five cruisers were out on the roads between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day, with officers also focusing on speeders for periods at other times of the day, he said.
During the month, Benwood officers cited 40 for failure to comply with the Move Over Law, which requires motorists traveling on a four-lane highway to move into the passing lane when they see an emergency vehicle on the berm.
If it isn't possible to safely switch left, the driver should reduce their speed.
Longwell said 14 police officers have been killed across the nation this year during traffic stops, while a West Virginia state trooper was struck by a car along Interstate 77 in Mercer County last week.
"People are killed and injured by speed," he said. "We cited this month people going 80 mph in a 55 mph zone, and we've had them go as fast as 90 mph."
With these speeds, Longwell said the general public should take switching lanes when emergency vehicles are pulled off into consideration.
"Would you want to stand along the side of the road with cars going 80, 90 or even just 60 or 50 mph past you?" Longwell said.