Speeds exceed limits at entrances to villages

(Provided photo)

We know drivers are exceeding speed limits nationwide more than ever since COVID-19 for various reasons. I have covered this in several Did You Know articles, the most recent one being in May.

In August I borrowed a hand-held radar gun and recorded speeds of vehicles both inbound and outbound approximately 500-600 feet inside the village of Malone on state Route 11B (Franklin Street), where the posted speed limit is 30 mph. The survey included only free-flowing vehicles which is standard procedure for speed studies. In groups of vehicles, only the first vehicle is measured, as all following vehicles are limited in speed by that of the first vehicle.

The study included five 30-minute segments, two on Friday, Aug. 5, two on Sunday, Aug. 7, and one on Thursday, Aug. 11. In the five segments westbound (outbound) vehicles totaled 214 and eastbound (inbound) vehicles totaled 179.

The survey found the average speed of outbound traffic, 42.3 mph, was greater than inbound traffic, 39 mph. Furthermore, of the 214 outbound vehicles, 25 were traveling at 50 mph or more. For inbound vehicles, 8 were at 50 mph or greater. The fastest outbound vehicle was clocked at 61 mph and the fastest inbound vehicle was traveling at 58 mph.

It might be surprising to find that the outbound speeds were greater than the inbound speeds. On Route 11B, the speed limit goes from 55 mph to 30 at the village line. For drivers entering the village after having driven at 55 or 60 mph, as we slow to the 40s, it feels like we are going much slower, perhaps even at the 30-mph speed limit. Thus, drivers tend to be going above speed limits when they enter cities, villages and hamlets.

(Provided photo)

There is a reason for this, and it is called “speed adaptation.” Tom Vanderbilt, in his book “Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do,” explains that the longer we drive at high speeds, the harder it is for us to slow down. This may explain the high speeds coming into the village, but how do we account for the high speeds leaving the village?

This is not unique to Malone. Our villages are all linked together by state highways and these highways are designed for more traffic and higher speeds, and thus are conducive to drivers exceeding speed limits, both entering and exiting our villages. It’s a proven theory of traffic engineering that drivers will generally drive what they perceive to be a safe speed regardless of the posted speed limit. Thus, it’s a given that speeds will be higher on roads entering and leaving our villages.

The accompanying table, seen below, shows the results of the speed survey.


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