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Hammer In Search Of Nail: If Everyone’s Speeding, Don’t Raise The Speed Limit – Make Them Stop Instead

November 19, 2013 by  

Philadelphia is testing a new method to get motorists to notice a posted 35 mph speed limit on a local street, with an eye to expanding the pilot project if city leaders like the results.

The city has spent $11,050 to embed speed sensors in the roadway on a stretch of Kelly Drive that trigger a traffic signal to switch from green to red – if the sensor detects a car that’s speeding.

Previously, the Kelly Drive signal only would turn red for pedestrians who pushed the crosswalk button or for cross traffic that had stopped at the opposing light.

What’s odd about this program is that the city had no idea that people were violating the speed limit by an average of nearly 20 mph over the limit – until after it signed on to embed the sensors that trigger the red light.

The story, as covered by local website philly.com, seems to get behind the effort by using the same sort of anecdotal generalizations – the kind not supported by data – that filmmaker Chris Thompson took to task in a recent video. Thompson argues that police, lawmakers and the media often collude to promote the “speed kills” mantra instead of examining whether drivers and pedestrians would be safer if speed limits, in many cases, were raised instead of zealously enforced.

“Daily commuters on Kelly Drive know well the frequent traffic jams caused by accidents and the occasional car veering into the Schuylkill,” offers philly.com.

What about it? If you’re familiar with this area, do you think it warrants strict enforcement of a 35 mph speed limit? Or is the average 54.8 mph driver speed more realistic?

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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