OPINION: Fighting with myself about the Eastville speeding tickets issue

A Virginia Uniform Summons: a speeding ticket

BY TED SHOCKLEY, Eastern Shore Post — 

NEW TACTIC TED: It is obvious that the speeding tickets issued by the Eastville town police officers aren’t working.

If the tickets and millions of dollars in fines they generated were working, we would actually see a reduction in speeding.

But there’s no reduction. Every year, it is same thing — plenty of tickets, plenty of money, plenty of speeders.

If Eastville’s officials and police were serious about improving highway safety, they would try a different approach — one that actually reduced speeding.

TICKET ’EM TED: Yawn. It must be a slow news day. If you don’t exceed the speed limit, you don’t get a ticket. It’s simple.

NEW TACTIC TED: It’s not simple at all, Mr. Law & Order.

Everything about Eastville’s stretch of Route 13 is built for speed.

The road is ramrod straight and looks like a drag strip‚ or an airport runway. It was poorly conceived.

The highway there actually feels like it is designed for high speeds — the roadbed is smooth and wide, and the route is straight.

Modern vehicles are designed to be effortless and fast. You almost have to force yourself to go slow.

TICKET ’EM TED: Baloney. Set your cruise control. Don’t overthink this, Einstein.

NEW TACTIC TED: If the solution were that easy, there wouldn’t be a problem with speeding in Eastville.

But there is a problem. People keep speeding.

The speeds are unsafe. And writing tickets isn’t slowing anything down.

Further, writing tickets just addresses a symptom of the problem. How do we fix the actual problem?

TICKET ’EM TED: I see where this is going. But you never studied traffic engineering.

You have no authority to lecture me — or anyone else — on roadway design or community planning.

NEW TACTIC TED: I’m not talking about re-engineering the road.

That would be inconvenient and expensive — two things Eastern Shore people hate.

But I would start with more signage — big signs south and north of Eastville warning of intensive speed patrolling and reiterating the speed limit.

TICKET ’EM TED: They probably won’t pay attention to the signs.

NEW TACTIC TED: I’ve been reading about “traffic-calming” strategies — rumble strips, speed bumps, narrower roads at intersections, traffic circles, and the like.

Maybe Eastville should try some traffic-calming strategies to reduce speeds.

Remember, the point isn’t for police to give speeding tickets. The point is to make the road safer by reducing speed.

TICKET ’EM TED: Honestly, traffic calming works better in towns and residential areas.

Onancock, for example, with its frequent police sirens, seems to have a downtown speeding problem.

That would be a great place for some traffic calming initiatives.

NEW TACTIC TED: I would like to see a traffic signal installed at the southern intersection of Route 13 and Courthouse Road.

Not only would it slow down highway traffic, it would help truck traffic access the grain elevator during high-traffic summer months.

TICKET ’EM TED: Believe me, we do not need more stoplights.

NEW TACTIC TED: You know the best speed control device on the Eastern Shore? It isn’t the threat of a speeding ticket.

TICKET ’EM TED: Then what is it?

NEW TACTIC TED: It is the threat of hitting a deer. Seeing the huge circles of blood on the highway — where vehicles have collided with deer — always make me slow down.

Maybe the Eastville Police Department can put up massive signs warning motorists about deer.
The signs could encourage slower, safer driving by telling motorists that deer have taken over the Eastern Shore.

That way, we could have a system of speed enforcement that focuses more on what is preventative than what is punitive.

TICKET ’EM TED: There are too many roadside signs now. We don’t need more.

We just need people to obey the posted speed limits.

If they exceed the speed, they will be issued a ticket.

NEW TACTIC TED: But until leaders in Eastville do something to slow speeds other than issue tickets, they’ll continue to look like town coffers are more important than promoting safety.
That’s a bad look.

— Ted Shockley is editor of the Eastern Shore Post. Reach him at [email protected]

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