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  1. #1
    Joetorious is offline Rookie
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    Lowering speed limits

    Hello -

    I recently moved to a densely populated neighborhood that has a 25-mph speed limit. The road is windy (creating numerous blind spots) and extremely hilly in several areas, and the traffic volume is huge and typically moves much faster than the posted speed limit.

    I attended my locality's traffic board meeting to propose low-cost solutions to the problem: decrease the speed limit to 15 and have a greater local LEO presence for enforcement.

    As I should have expected, there's a lot of red tape involved in both. I was shocked to learn many things about Pennsylvania, including that: A) only state police can use radar to enforce speed limits below 35 mph (in other words, motorists can go 35 in my neighborhood w/o fear of being ticketed by a local LEO); B) citations that are issued actually COST the municipality money, rather than generate revenue/profits); 25 mph is the minimum speed limit for a public road in PA.

    So my questions are: 1) do any of you have any research indicating that 25 mph is a dangerously high speed limit for residential neighborhoods (I've scoured the Internet to no avail); 2) do you have any suggestions for how I should approach a state-level campaign to implement a common-sense safety solution that could literally save lives?

    I have a 16-month-old boy, and live in severe curve, as well as the top of the steepest slope on the entire road. Making matters worse is that at the bottom of the slope is a stop light that people race to beat. It has disaster written all over it.

    Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, and thanks for your service to local communities.

  2. #2
    MacLean's Avatar
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    We field this question at least once per week, here.

    Most speed limits are set within a standard model traffic ordinance. In other words, Cities and Counties generally have to follow that model, which is usually a State standard. Most of those models are uniform across several States, and I am unaware of one that allows a 15MPH limit.

    25 MPH is at or near the speed that allows the shortest stopping distance at wheel lock, as if a driver were to see a child and romp on the pedal. Not sure how modern ABS would change that issue.

    I think you would have better luck at legislation allowing municipal and county officers to use radar. There are no such "Trooper only" restrictions in Washington.

    School zones are one exception I see set to 20MPH, but I suspect that is to allow the 5MPH fudge.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLean View Post
    I think you would have better luck at legislation allowing municipal and county officers to use radar. There are no such "Trooper only" restrictions in Washington.

    Right here is your solution. That is a crazy restriction. In AL State, County, and Municipal Police can run and use radar granted that they have passed training on it.

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  4. #4
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    I'm going to mostly echo what Maclean said.

    As a general rule in MN, speed limits are set by the state. There is a way (in MN anyway) to go about getting speed limits raised or lowered, but it involves traffic density studies, engineers, etc. It's a costly, time consuming process (more of that govt red tape.)

    The city I work for doesn't have any 15 mph speed zones, and I'm not aware of any near me that do.

    And like Five-0 and Mac said, any law enforcement officer in the state of MN can operate radar and issue tickets for speeding. I agree that your best best would be to get that law changed.

    I'd also suggest contact your states office of traffic safety (or other applicable agency), or your nearest state patrol office. Considering they're the only agency able to enforce speed's below 35 mph (35,30,25 mph speed zones are obviously the most common in city settings) they've maybe handled this before and are willing to focus their enforcement on your neighborhood.

    What about installing speed bumps? Or seeing if the city would install additional signage?
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  5. #5
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    A lot of stuff has already been covered -- but there are also other traffic calming measures that can be taken. Start with working with the PD to do some actual traffic studies to find out how bad the problem is. Then look into some of the different ideas, like lane narrowing, more markings about the speed limit, even speed bumps. Some are very cheap (some paint for shifting lane lines) others are really expensive (redesign & realignment of the road). If you do a quick search on traffic calming, you'll see the range of options.

    I'm not a fan of lowering limits below 25 mph. All you end up doing is having people speed... Limits should be set taking into account the local environment as well as reasonable expectations of driver behavior. Set 'em at even 20 mph, and people ignore the limit. Especially if you can't do much enforcement.

    In fact -- here you go: TrafficCalming.org
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  6. #6
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    Most everyone has mentioned what I would have. Ohio is also the same in that 25mph is the lowest speed limit allowed on public streets and highways. (Not including school zones)

    You would be better off working with your local agency on solutions to having an increased police presence. Maybe soliciting donations from civic organizations and businesses for the purchase of a speed trailer for the department would be an option that your local agency would appreciate?

    On a related sidenote, please watch your own speed when in the neighborhood. No sarcasm intended, and I'm sure that you do, but ask anyone who has been a cop for a while, they know what I'm getting at.
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  7. #7
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    "The reason I stopped you is because due to complaints from residents we are conducting extra speed enforcement here. You came through my RADAR at 37 mph and this is a clearly marked residential 25 zone. Was there a reason you were driving so fast?"

    "I'm sorry officer, I didn't realize. "

    "I'll be issuing you a citation for speeding today."

    "But I'm the one who called!"

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  8. #8
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    +1....

    Been there, done that!
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  9. #9
    Mark7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joetorious View Post
    Hello -

    I recently moved to a densely populated neighborhood that has a 25-mph speed limit. The road is windy (creating numerous blind spots) and extremely hilly in several areas, and the traffic volume is huge and typically moves much faster than the posted speed limit.

    I attended my locality's traffic board meeting to propose low-cost solutions to the problem: decrease the speed limit to 15 and have a greater local LEO presence for enforcement.

    As I should have expected, there's a lot of red tape involved in both. I was shocked to learn many things about Pennsylvania, including that: A) only state police can use radar to enforce speed limits below 35 mph (in other words, motorists can go 35 in my neighborhood w/o fear of being ticketed by a local LEO); B) citations that are issued actually COST the municipality money, rather than generate revenue/profits); 25 mph is the minimum speed limit for a public road in PA.

    So my questions are: 1) do any of you have any research indicating that 25 mph is a dangerously high speed limit for residential neighborhoods (I've scoured the Internet to no avail); 2) do you have any suggestions for how I should approach a state-level campaign to implement a common-sense safety solution that could literally save lives?

    I have a 16-month-old boy, and live in severe curve, as well as the top of the steepest slope on the entire road. Making matters worse is that at the bottom of the slope is a stop light that people race to beat. It has disaster written all over it.

    Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, and thanks for your service to local communities.
    The information you have gathered there is not completely correct. First, at this point in time the State Police are the only ones authorized to use radar in Pennsylvania in any location. There is a bill currently before the legislature authorizing municipal police the ability to use radar- House Bill 1475 of 2011. There are several other ways municipal police can enforce speed restrictions: VASCAR, ENNRAD, or a simple certified stopwatch or chronograph at a measured location. Additionally, if your area has an established police department, the State Police cannot come into that area and do speed enforcement without permission of the local Chief of Police.

    Traffic citations do generate revenue for the local municipality. One-half of the fine goes to the State treasury and one-half of the fine is returned to the municipality where the violation occurred.

    Twenty-five miles per hour is NOT the minimum speed for a local road. Section 3362(a)(3) of the Vehicle Code establishes “any other maximum speed limit.” For this type of speed limit to be established, the local municipality must conduct a “traffic & engineering study” as outlined by the Vehicle Code and Title 67- PENNDOT rules and regulations. Additionally, maximum speed limits must be posted (proper signs) as required by the Vehicle Code and Title 67.

    Here is 3362 of the Vehicle Code:

    75 Pa. C. S. § 3362. Maximum speed limits

    (a) GENERAL RULE.-- Except when a special hazard exists that requires lower speed for compliance with section 3361 (relating to driving vehicle at safe speed), the limits specified in this section or established under this subchapter shall be maximum lawful speeds and no person shall drive a vehicle at a speed in excess of the following maximum limits:

    (1) 35 miles per hour in any urban district.

    (1.1) 65 miles per hour for all vehicles on freeways where the department has posted a 65-miles-per-hour speed limit.

    (1.2) 25 miles per hour in a residence district, if the highway:

    (i) is not a numbered traffic route; and

    (ii) is functionally classified by the department as a local highway.

    (2) 55 miles per hour in other locations.

    (3) Any other maximum speed limit established under this subchapter.

    (b) POSTING OF SPEED LIMIT.--

    (1) No maximum speed limit established under subsection (a)(1), (1.2) or (3) shall be effective unless posted on fixed or variable official traffic-control devices erected in accordance with regulations adopted by the department which regulations shall require posting at the beginning and end of each speed zone and at intervals not greater than one-half mile.

    (2) No maximum speed limit established under subsection (a)(1.1) shall be effective unless posted on fixed or variable official traffic-control devices erected after each interchange on the portion of highway on which the speed limit is in effect and wherever else the department shall determine.

    (c) PENALTY.--

    (1) Any person violating this section is guilty of a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of:

    (i) $ 42.50 for violating a maximum speed limit of 65 miles per hour;
    or

    (ii) $ 35 for violating any other maximum speed limit.

    (2) Any person exceeding the maximum speed limit by more than five miles per hour shall pay an additional fine of $ 2 per mile for each mile in excess of five miles per hour over the maximum speed limit.

    AND here is the goobbly goop from Title 67:

    § 212.108. Speed limits.

    (a) General. This section applies to maximum speed limits established according to 75 Pa.C.S. § § 3362 and 3363 (relating to maximum speed limits; and alteration of maximum limits). Engineering and traffic studies are not required for statutory speed limits, but documentation should be on file for urban districts and residence districts to show that the requirements defined in the Vehicle Code are satisfied.

    (b) Engineering and traffic studies. Speed limits established in accordance with 75 Pa.C.S. § 3363 may be established in multiples of 5 miles per hour up to the maximum lawful speed. The speed limit should be within 5 miles per hour of the average 85th percentile speed or the safe-running speed on the section of highway, except the speed limit may be reduced up to 10 miles per hour below either of these values if one or more of the following conditions are satisfied:

    (1) A major portion of the highway has insufficient stopping sight distance if traveling at the 85th percentile speed or the safe-running speed.

    (2) The available corner sight distance on side roads is less than the necessary stopping sight distance values for through vehicles.

    (3) The majority of crashes are related to excessive speed and the crash rate during a minimum 12-month period is greater than the applicable rate in the most recent high-crash rate or high-crash severity rate table included in the appendix of Official Traffic-Control Devices (Department Publication 212). Crashes related to excessive speed include those crashes with causation factors of driving too fast for conditions, turning without clearance or failing to yield right-of-way.

    (c) Variable speed limits. To improve safety, speed limits may be changed as a function of traffic speeds or densities, weather or roadway conditions or other factors.

    (d) Special speed limits.

    (1) Within a rest area or welcome center, a 25 mile per hour speed limit may be established without the need for an engineering and traffic study if pedestrians walk across the access roadways between the parking lot and the rest facilities.

    (2) Within a toll plaza or a truck weight station, an appropriate speed limit may be established without an engineering and traffic study by the authorities in charge to enforce the safety of the operations or to protect the scales.

    (e) Posting of speed limits. A Speed Limit Sign (R2-1) or variable speed limit sign showing the maximum speed limit shall be placed on the right side of the highway at the beginning of each numerical change in the speed limit, but an additional sign may also be installed on the left side of the highway. If the new speed limit begins at an intersection, the first sign should be installed within 200 feet beyond the intersection. The placement of this sign must satisfy both the requirement to post the beginning of the new speed limit and the requirement to post the end of the previous speed limit. Additional requirements for posting are as follows:

    (1) Speed limits of 50 miles per hour or less shall be posted as follows:

    (i) A Reduced Speed (
    ) Ahead Sign (R2-5), or a Speed Reduction Sign (W3-5), shall be placed on the right side of the highway 500 to 1,000 feet before the beginning of every speed reduction unless one of the following applies:

    (A) The speed reduction is 10 miles per hour or less.

    (B) The speed reduction begins at an intersection and all traffic entering the roadway with the speed reduction has to either stop at a Stop Sign (R1-1) or make a turn.

    (C) The new speed limit is posted on variable speed limit signs.

    (ii) Speed Limit Signs (R2-1) or a variable speed limit sign showing the maximum speed shall be placed on the right side of the highway at the beginning of the speed limit and at intervals not greater than 1/2 mile throughout the area with the speed limit.

    (iii) The end of a speed limit is typically identified by the placement of a sign indicating a new speed limit, but the End Plaque (R2-10) may be placed above a Speed Limit Sign (R2-1) at the end of the zone if the appropriate speed limit is not known on the following section of roadway.

    (2) On freeways, a Speed Limit Sign (R2-1) shall be installed after each interchange unless insufficient space exists for the signs.
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  10. #10
    jmur5074's Avatar
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    Not only do we have LEO's from PA here....but at least one of them knows more about PA's speed enforcement than I know about my wife.


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  11. #11
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    If your city police can't use RADAR, maybe they can use LIDAR?

    I prefer it anyhow.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark7 View Post
    Traffic citations do generate revenue for the local municipality. One-half of the fine goes to the State treasury and one-half of the fine is returned to the municipality where the violation occurred.
    I think that's a big picture revenue loss. The time it takes me to write the ticket, process it, and for my dispatchers to enter it into our records system, the court clerks to process it, and DMV to process it, cost more money in the long run than the ticket will generate. If someone shows up for court it's an even bigger loss. Nobody actually makes money off the ticket when you consider the expense in writing it and processing it.
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  13. #13
    Mark7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLean View Post
    If your city police can't use RADAR, maybe they can use LIDAR?

    I prefer it anyhow.
    LIDAR is not an approved device here in the Keystone Kop state
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  14. #14
    MacLean's Avatar
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    Why the heck not?
    I'm your huckleberry...

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  15. #15
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    Mark7 beat me to the punch. Without all the rest of the pulling hoops, the troopers only radar policy, if there are enough complaints from residents to local police why can't they simply have units monitor the area and time/pace motorists?
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  16. #16
    Mark7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLean View Post
    Why the heck not?
    As the pols see it, just like RADAR, municipalities will use it as "revenue generators." The current bill in the legislature spells out that only full time police officers who are members of a "full service" police department or regional police department will be authorized to use RADAR. Pennsylvania is the land of "part-time" cops. There are far more part-time police officers couple with part-time police departments then there are full-time LEOs. We have local colleges cranking out these part-time eligible individuals at an alarming rate; but this thread is about speeding- don't get me started on a RANT!
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