Lowered Speed Limit Has Not Stopped Signal Speeding
by Judy Frank
posted August 13, 2007

Lowering the speed limit from 40 mph to 35 mph on Signal Mountain’s main thoroughfare has not eliminated speeding, Police Chief Boyd Veal told town leaders Monday evening.

But it has reduced the overall speed at which people are traveling, he added.

During recent studies, he said, about 69 percent of the drivers whose speeds were clocked were traveling faster than the posted speed limit.

The results are particularly discouraging, he said, because the town is six months into an initiative where “we’re paying (law enforcement officers) overtime to do nothing but watch for speeders.”

He said the initiative has been anything but popular with people stopped for speeding.

“Don’t you guys have any real crime to investigate?” is one of the politer comments commonly made by offenders, he said.

He said some people have also been offended by the fact that when they are stopped, two officers sometimes pull over on the side of the road to handle the incident.

Having two officers on hand is not intended to harass, intimidate or embarrass the occupants of the stopped car, he said. It is a strategy aimed at reducing the possibility that the incident will escalate and possibly end in harm to the officers and/or the people stopped.

Traffic stops are inherently dangerous, the police chief said, because when officers pull a car over to the side of the road they have no idea who is inside it.

“Just because the place a person gets stopped is on Signal Mountain doesn’t mean they’re not a bad person,” he said.

Having two officers at the scene makes sense, he said, because it allows one of them to concentrate on running the driver’s record and handling paperwork while the other concentrates on what is happening inside the stopped vehicle.

Chief Veal said during two six-day periods when data on speeding was collected, a speed trailer was placed alongside Taft Highway to show drivers how fast they were traveling as they started down the side of the mountain.

The devices also recorded data, he revealed, so that the two periods could be compared statistically.

One of those six-day periods occurred when the speed limit was still 40 mph, the police chief said, and the second came after the limit was lowered to 35 mph.

Some were traveling far faster than the limit, he noted. One vehicle, for example, was clocked at 109 mph.

But during the second six-day test period, when the limit was 35 mph, data shows that 323 fewer people were going faster than 51 mph.

“That’s 54 times a day this roadway was safer,” the police chief said.

Data also showed 1,521 fewer drivers traveling at 46 to 50 mph, he noted, and a whopping 2,092 fewer going 41 to 45 mph.