Saturday, September 12, 2009

Unenforceable Speed Limit?

The Woodstock City Council recently lowered the speed limit on West South Street to 40MPH (from 45MPH). This new sign greets eastbound motorists as they enter the City Limits from County jurisdiction just west of Serene Trail. (Click on the photo to enlarge it; then click on the Back button on your browser.)
Now I'm not going to test the speed limit by traveling 41MPH after I pass the sign, but my opinion is that the 40MPH speed limit is unenforceable eastbound. Here's why.
The speed limit in the County, west of the City Limit, is the "unposted" State speed limit of 55MPH. There was no problem with enforcement of Woodstock's 45MPH speed limit eastbound from the (unmarked) City Limit, because the speed limit did not decrease more than 10MPH.
But, when a speed limit drops more than 10MPH, IDOT calls that an "altered speed zone" and requires the posting of a sign before reaching the new, lower speed zone to alert drivers and give them the opportunity to slow down. As it is now, you round a curve eastbound and quickly face a 40MPH speed limit sign - no warning! That means slamming on the brakes to slow to 40MPH by the time you reach the sign (which no one does) or "speeding" in the 40MPH zone.
The driver who gets a ticket in the new 40MPH probably has a good defense, if he has a good lawyer who understands this nuance and argues it effectively before a traffic court judge. Cost? $300-500 to beat a $75 ticket.
However, why not solve the problem in the right manner, as well as extending the courtesy of a warning to a driver, by paying for the County to install a standard regulatory sign reading "Reduced Speed Ahead" and the required smaller 40MPH sign below it. Cost? $100.00.
The City wanted to help out the few residents in the Serenity Creek subdivision who couldn't wait a few seconds for a break in traffic. It did that. Now, help out the hundreds of eastbound drivers every day who are entitled to a warning of the new lower speed.
A further alert of the new, lower speed limit could be given by temporarily installing two orange flags at 45-degree angles at the top of the new 40MPH sign. The City of McHenry does that; they figured that out. Why can't Woodstock do that?


Karen12359 said...

Is it legal? Was a proper speed study done? This was done in Island Lake on Dowell Road. The Wauconda township supervisor got a ticket after they changed the speed limit. He decided to fight it in court. Island Lake backed out when they found out the county road supervisor would be giving testimony ...

UR1096 said...

Slam on your brakes????? Are you kidding? To slow down 15 mph???
P.S. A driver has 500 feet past a new posted speed sign to slow to the new speed.

Gus said...

Drive into Woodstock on South Streete from the west. The roadway curves. The 40MPH sign is well off the roadway. The driver's attention will be on the roadway and any approaching traffic, not necessarily looking for a new speed limit sign.

I disagree that a driver has 500' to slow down. The speed limit is effective at the sign. The law says that "electronic speed-detecting devices" will not be used within 500 feet beyond a speed limit sign in the direction of travel. This just means that police can't use radar in the first 500 feet. A speeding violation still exists.

Gus said...

Code 10-96. Detain prisoner/suspect; request case number; give test-count; radio-telephone patch; indecent exposure; mental subject; out of vehicle with pedestrian-send back-up. Which one are you?

Frank said...

So going from 55 to 40 they have to SLAM ON THEIR BRAKES??? Are these drivers currently slaming on their brakes to slow down from 55 to 45?

ToSirWithLove said...

Gus, how dare you question the legality of a well placed "speed trap"? Tickets are the reason some cops get promoted. How else are they going to advance their careers? Solve crimes? Has anyone been charged in that double homicide in Cary? Maybe Gauger did it. Call in Eugene, maybe he can get his honor back again and get another unverifiable confession. Then, as the plan unfolds he'll be appointed Sheriff. A vote for "Dirty Keith" is a vote for "Shoddy Police Work Eugene".

Piotr said...

Gus, your right. You can not see this darn sign! I was passing by there while I was sending a text message to my Ole G and changing my pants. I totally did not see it! Gus, do some checking and see what we can do about this!

The Madd Bulldog said...

1. I usually drive too fast to even see any speed limit sign.
2. Plus, being drunk and on Rx meds I have enuff trouble staying on the right side of the double-yellow lines! DOH!!!