Complaints of high speeds in downtown Malone are frequent. However, with so much traffic along Main Street (U.S. Route 11), it defies logic to think speeds are as high as some repute it to be. So, I requested speed data from state Department of Transportation, and here is what I found.
Speed data for the month of April, 2012, in the middle of downtown Malone, between the intersection of Harrison Place and Elm Street, showed that the average speed for vehicles northbound on U.S. Route 11 (really eastbound in Malone) was only 25.1 mph. Southbound (westbound) was even lower at 23.8 mph.
With an average of 20,000 vehicles per day in this section during the 30 days of the survey, it would be very unusual for speeds to be high, at least during the heaviest traffic during the daytime. In fact, 69 percent of eastbound vehicles were traveling at the posted speed limit of 30 mph or lower. For westbound traffic, 76.5 percent were 30 mph or lower. Also of interest is that only between three and four percent of the vehicles were traveling at 40 mph or above.
There was, however, an occasional vehicle measured at a high rate of speed. One eastbound vehicle was clocked in excess of 75 mph between 11 p.m. and midnight and another was traveling at 70 to 75 mph between midnight and 1 a.m. Westbound, one vehicle was going between 70 to 75 mph between 7 and 8 a.m., and another between 65 to 70 mph between 4 and 5 p.m. It's possible that these could have been emergency vehicles responding to a call, but that is not necessarily the case.
Although speeds may be lower than expected by most people, they are affected not only by heavy traffic but also by traffic signals at both intersections adjacent to the location of the survey. Given that at night these signals rest on green for Main Street unless a vehicle approaches on a side street, I would have expected the highest speeds to be between midnight and 5 a.m., but that was not necessarily the case. For eastbound vehicles traveling between 35 to 40 mph, the peak hour was between 9 and 10 a.m. and the peak hour for the same speeds westbound was 7-8 p.m.
Also of interest is that the peak hour for eastbound traffic was 1 to 2 p.m. and the peak hour westbound was 5 to 6 p.m.
So what conclusions, if any, can be taken from this data? Perhaps nothing concrete, but still it is interesting that traffic is perhaps not traveling as fast as most of us think. Sure, there is always the rogue driver that, for whatever reason, will speed so fast as to place anyone in the way in danger, but that is not just in Malone, that takes place everywhere under the right conditions. However, it appears that most traffic is traveling at a prudent speed in downtown Malone, whether the reason is congestion, abundance of traffic signals, or just careful drivers, at least the majority of them.
For more articles on traffic law and safety, go to the traffic safety board's web site at: www.franklincony.org and click on "Traffic Safety Board" under departments then look for Did You Know articles under "services."