By on September 15, 2009

According to the, a recent traffic study performed on Signal Mountain roads revealed that more than 90 percent of drivers exceeded the posted speed limit. Can you guess what the city’s response was to this fact? If you guessed “let’s install speed cameras and ticket everybody,” then you’re absolutely right: “Signal Mountain Police Chief Boyd Veal, who presented the report to the council, said he believes the town should consider using traffic cameras mounted on trucks to catch speeders, as Chattanooga and Red Bank already do.” This is how speed cameras have spread across states. If a city hears that another city nearby is making a bunch of money after installing cameras, you can bet that cameras are going to be first on their list when a “speeding problem” shows up. Not everyone is on board though . . .

“If 95 percent of the town is speeding, then the speed limits are too low,” argued Noah Long, a frequent critic of council actions. “Studies show that most people drive at speeds consistent with road conditions . . . Now there are always fools. There are always kids . . . But I’m absolutely, totally against cameras.”

This is exactly right. When over 90% of drivers are breaking the speed limit, the problem lies with the speed limit itself. Ninety percent of the people driving through Signal Mountain don’t magically transform into dangerous drivers.

As is often the case when there is outcry over a city speed limit, the heart of the problem lies with the disconnect in priorities between the people living near the road and the people who drive on that road:

Mr. Long, the retired engineer, took particular aim at an earlier town council action setting the speed limit on Taft Highway – the main road through town – at 35 mph.

Low speed limits make sense in residential neighborhoods where children play and adults walk along the streets, he said. But Taft Highway is a four-lane “collector . . . major arterial . . . road.”

Unfortunately for motorists, the people living near a road are often able to dictate lower speed limits because they have more influence over local decision makers.

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6 Comments on “Speed Cameras: In Tennessee, The State Volunteers You!...”

  • avatar

    Wow, lots of great government ideas in the TTAC newsreel today!

    I’m getting so tired of solving “problems” (if you can even call them that) with idiotic solutions….that are usually simply a tax in disguise. Why is the solution never to adjust the speed limits?? We all know why.

    I expect if things keep up at this pace, there could be a strong movement to somehow separate traffic fines from municipal coffers. This is getting out of hand.

  • avatar

    Oh I will add I had a neighborhood-lower-speed-limits situation in my hometown. 35mph primary arterial through town was that speed through two cities on each end, but as it passes for about 2 miles through another it drops to 25….because that’s what those living on the street wanted.

    This road has shoulders, (almost enough for 2 lanes each direction) the houses are WAY back from the street, there are not sidewalks, and from what I can tell, I never see kids playing outside, or if they are, they’re back by the house.

    Of course, there are big red flags on the speed limit signs, and people enjoy putting these little yellow plastic men in their front yard with “slow down” signs on them. Hell, I’ve even had a couple times where the owners sit in their front yard and yell at me to slow down.

    The street is an arterial and has been that way for decades. Suddenly 35 is too fast, and also feeds traffic to the other roads in the area, making them more congested. Probably what the people there wanted, but again, that road was that way before they moved in, their houses are way way back from the street, and 35 isn’t 70 by any means.

  • avatar

    Blame the speeders, not the government policy.

    After all, those reckless speeders are endangering everyone else… all 10% of everyone else…

  • avatar

    I’m no stranger to Signal Mountain Road (otherwise known as US-127), and let me hypothesize about one of the big reasons for speeding: It’s a steep grade downhill into town.

    Check out the Google Maps StreetView of the top of Signal Mountain Road. It looks like far less of a grade than it is in real life. And if you happen to have come down the upper portion– Signal Mountain Boulevard– as many people do, you’ve really just come off a hill.

    Most of Signal Mountain Road is four-lane with a bi-directional turn lane separating the lanes of travel, if I remember correctly. Seems like it could easily be a 45 mph zone. I would be interested in knowing by just how much most of those drivers are breaking the speed limit.

    In the meantime, be careful if you do any spirited driving on those beautiful Southeast Tennessee backroads, I guess. But rest easy if you’re coming into Chattanooga from the North or South, you’ll probably either be on I-75, I-24 or US-27/TN-29. Much better roads with reasonable speed limits (at least 55 mph through most of town.) Signal Mountain Road/US-127 used to be the main artery into town for travelers passing through, but in practice, that hasn’t been the case for years…especially once the new and improved US-27 was completed a decade or so back.

  • avatar

    Politicians are our representatives. If they fail to represent our interests, their actions need to be publicized and then voted out. Simple.

  • avatar

    These things are all over the place in a couple of towns outside of Knoxville. Sad to see other parts of this state catching up with us.

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