Cops take aim at speeders

By Scott E. Williams
The Daily News

Published October 10, 2007
SANTA FE — Police say they hope to bring one of the city’s most prevalent problems to a screeching halt.

“The No. 1 complaint the chief gets from citizens is people speeding through their neighborhoods,” detective Robert Powers said.

Since Oct. 1, police have put extra patrols throughout the city, funded by a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation. The officers are on the lookout for speeders and drunken drivers.

Santa Fe is a largely residential community, and that means every road is a residential road, even state Highway 6.

Before establishing where the extra patrols would work, Powers studied traffic in six heavily traveled areas.

The best stretch proved to be the school zone on state Highway 6, near Avenue T, where 20 percent of motorists obeyed the reduced speed limit. Overall, more than 84 percent drivers in Santa Fe were speeding.

“Most of the people speeding are not from Santa Fe,” Powers said. “I was working a traffic detail last week, and the people I stopped were from Friendswood, Alvin, all over the place, just going through our town.”

Patrol Sgt. Eric Bruss said he did not mind people coming through Santa Fe — he just wanted them to do so at posted speeds.

“The No. 1 thing people say when I stop them is that they were unaware of what the speed limit was,” he said. “Wouldn’t it make more sense to slow down when you’re not sure, instead of taking the chance?”

Powers said school-zone speeding was inexcusable, regardless of the driver’s city of origin.

“Those flashing, yellow lights ought to get your attention,” he said.

Patti Abbott, assistant principal at Barnett Intermediate School, said she and other school officials found early mornings worrisome, partially because of people driving by the schools.

“I do see a lot of people in a hurry,” she said. “Whether they’re late for work or they have to drop off another kid, everybody’s always rushing. It can get pretty chaotic, and I am sometimes afraid that someone’s going to get hurt out there.”

Powers said before that happened, police hoped to put the hurt on the pocketbooks of those who drive too fast. Speeding tickets can cost as much as $500, but state law allows those fines to be doubled in school zones.

Powers said speeders should not expect warnings.

“We’re not out there to warn — we’re out there to deter,” he said. “I’m sorry, but a citation is something a person will remember longer.”

Bruss said police would also have zero tolerance for people violating a lane-clearing law passed in 2004. When a traffic stop is under way, the law requires motorists either to vacate the lane closest to the shoulder of the stop, or slow to 20 mph below the speed limit.