Mount Pleasant Speeding

Monday, Dec 18, 2006 - 06:02 PM

Reporter: Meryl Conant
Photojournalist: Gino Canella

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It's a growing problem: speeding along Interstate 526 in Mt. Pleasant. Now, it has city leaders looking at changing laws.

The area in question is between Mathis Ferry Road and the Wando River.

Last week in this area, police issued 50 speeding tickets: 4 for more than 90-miles-per hour and four for more than 100-miles-per-hour. The maximum speed ticketed was for a driver going 121 miles-per-hour.

Police officers say the part of 526 in Mt. Pleasant is the only section with a speed limit of 65 mph. The rest is 60 mph.

So, town leaders asked the Department of Transportation to study this part of the road to see if dropping the speed limit will help put the breaks on speeders.

For now, they are saturating 526 with patrols.

16 cities in the country have gone to the next level: setting up cameras to watch speed prone areas at every moment of the day and night.

“We can't conceivable be here 24 hours,” explained Officer Nicholas Lebby. “So, to have a tool that can be here 24 hours would be one of the best tools I can imagine."

Not everyone agrees.

“I have an aversion to big brother watching over my shoulder at all times,” said Mt. Pleasant Mayor Harry Hallman. “I'd rather do it with stepped up enforcement.”

Plus, Hallman says the state would have to approve installing speed cameras on state roads.

So far, the only US states with them are Arizona, California, Colorado, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and the District of Columbia.

In D.C. in 2001 before speed cameras went up 26% of drivers sped aggressively. Now, that's down to just 2%. The number of speed related fatalities is also down: from 36 deaths in 2001, to just 18 in all of 2005.

While the Department of Transportation does have some surveillance cameras, they are not used for law enforcement purposes.