Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Milton citizens speak out against speeding.

by Jonathan Copsey; Appen Newspapers

April 14, 2010

MILTON - With William and Bryce Pope the latest Milton residents to fall victim to a vehicular crash, many residents are calling on the city to take action by lowering speed limits, increase policing or installing traffic calming devices. So far eight resident have perished when their vehicles crashed on Milton's roads. One teenager died the very night Milton held its first election and was born.

However, the city has few options to deal with the perceived problem.

Pope, 45, and his young son, Bryce, were both killed two weeks ago when their car swerved from the road and hit a tree. Another young boy survived.

Tim Enloe, operator of popular Web site Access Milton, has his own crusade. He knows firsthand the loss of a loved one in a motor vehicle accident; his brother was killed in a crash on his birthday. Enloe has been a strong and vocal advocate for better safety on Milton's roadways, going so far as to host his own safety forum last year outlining simple, low-cost ideas to the city such as stop signs and lower speed limits.

"I had hoped that those in charge would utilize some of my suggestions," Enloe said. "To date, not one idea has been implemented."

Enloe has become even more critical of the city since it began discussing traffic safety improvements to subdivisions, but no talk about open roads, where a large portion of Milton still lives.

"Not one fatality has happened in a subdivision," Enloe said. "They have all been on the open roads, in the open road neighborhoods."

Milton prides itself on its rural nature and, being rural, there are often trees standing very close to the winding roadways, so even a slight deviation from the road can result in hitting one. The accident report of Pope's crash notes that, despite driving at "very excessive speeds," he was neither on the phone nor had any alcohol in his system; he just had an accident.

Resident Patti Silva contacted city officials shortly after Pope's crash expressing her dismay at yet another fatality on the roads of her young city.

"Our roads are not safe," she said. "Weather gets bad. People speed or talk on the phone. Good drivers mess up... I'm painfully sad over this and so very afraid for our community. Will anyone do something?"

Unfortunately there's little the city can do.

According to City Manager Chris Lagerbloom, while state road speed limits are set by the state, the city certainly has the option of lowering the speed limits on all city streets. But there is a catch.

"We do have the authority to deviate [on the speed limit] on the city streets, but if we deviate on the city streets, the state removes our ability to enforce it."

So the argument goes like this: if drivers refuse to go the posted speed limit as it is currently set, knowing the threat of police action, why would drivers be more willing to follow the limit knowing they would not be ticketed? If anything, speeding would become more of a hazard.

"The state completely regulates our ability to enforce," Lagerbloom said. "And they set the speed limit they will allow us to enforce. I would rather have a speed limit with teeth than a mere sign."

Traffic calming can only come about with the combination of enforcement and engineering. First is the simple engineering aspect – striping and signage which are designed to notify a driver of hazards, such as winding roads. The more intense engineering aspect is controlling lane width, adding medians and speed bumps. Despite the attraction of adding speed bumps on the main roads, such as Highway 9, it is impractical and dangerous, since the speed limit is 45. Intersection improvements can also be considered. One of the city's most dangerous intersections – Birmingham Highway and Providence Road – is currently in the design phase with GDOT to be straightened out. Unfortunately, GDOT is backed up with projects years into the future and it is unlikely the intersection would be fixed anytime soon. It is optimistically scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.

Increased enforcement by the police is unlikely due to the city's tight budget, which calls for four officers on the road at any given time, covering the entirety of Milton, which, in terms of area is one of Georgia's largest towns. Despite an agreement with Alpharetta allowing Milton and Alpharetta officers to patrol each other's streets, this still leaves a large portion of the city without police nearby.

So the solution is still far off. Some people will always speed and most will do so without ever getting into an accident, but roads are only as safe as the drivers who travel them.


Laurie Hardin said...

Once again it is due to the loss of two precious lives that we are left with "what could we have done differently?" What is even more sad is that our city is making excuses to avoid improvements or delaying the process. With the growth of this area, something needs to be done sooner than later or there are going to be more incidents, and the excuses will no longer be enough to sooth the situation(which I am sure many will tell you they are no longer accepting the excuses). Roads are not necessarily as safe as the drivers who travel them.....there are things that can be done to the roads to improve the driving conditions, unless it is wildlife that interferes. One thing I have noticed is the need for more shoulder room on these roads....and with those added, it does not take away from the "rural" effect. If you have travelled these roads as many times as the residents of Milton have on a regular basis you would know how little room there is for error. There are many locations along the roadway that indicate loss of contact with the road and driving on soft ground where the elevation is significantly lower than the road!! Having a family of my own and having lost a brother in a plane crash, I cannot help but grieve for this wife/mother and daughter/sister. Their lives are forever changed. I hope the city of Milton can come up with something more positive for the sake of the residents. I am proud to be a resident here, but I do not want to hear excuses when in reality SOMETHING can be done and not lose the Milton "pride" along the way!!

Sincerely, A Very Concerned Resident

Reality said...

Sounds great Laurie, now tell us how you plan to pay for all of the shoulder widening.

Christopher said...

So here is the question then based on Chris' comments: What is the lowest that the State will allow us to go and still have the ability to enforce the limit?

He inferred it, but did not specifically say if we were at that limit already.


Anonymous said...

dropping the speed limit again, another 5 mph on a few roads is not going to make people who speed excessivly speed any less. If someone typically drives 10-15 mph over the speed limit, with out any regard for the area they are driving through, do you think dropping the speed limit 5 mph is going to make them speed at 55 mph and not 60 mph? ONLY police presence and increased ticketing is going to give people who drive our roads the message to slow down.

The people of our community, if we are serious about making our roads safer are going to have to pressure our Council to allot more funds for police to hire more officers. Period. For the amount of square miles this city has, having only 4 officers on hand per shift is utterly inexcusible and unsafe for our residents. They are not needed just for speeding!

Anonymous said...

Laurie is exactly right. Speed makes Milton's roads dangerous, but narrow shoulders and unprotected embankments make them deadly.

Public safety-related road improvements should be eligible for Federal, State and/or County funds. City Manager Chris Lagerbloom, Finance Director Stacey Inglis and Public Works Director Carter Lucas need to get up-to-speed and get this done.

Reality said...

2 words : personal responsibility

Anonymous said...

One of the issues is that in the State of GA, the police can only ticket you once you are going 11mph over the limit.

So while I agree with the personal responsibility, we have to be at a point where the police can stop people are are driving way too fast on our roads.

Karl H said...

I dont understand how Alpharetta can have 35 MPH city wide and still be allowed to pull people over for speeding and we cannot if we lower to 35? Tim/Chris - can you explain that?? Is it because a different standard was applied to our area since it was once under county only control? Can't that be revisited now that we are a city??

Tired of hearing about non-solutions like personal responsibility. Slower speed limits and STRONG enforcement are solutions, relying on others to be responsible is not!

Anonymous said...

Karl, your last paragraph is absolutely correct.

In the 1950's Alpharetta had a problem with speeding inside the city limit. Q.A. Wills was elected mayor and he made W.A (Buck) Rudasil police chief. Buck began strictly enforcing the speed limit and before long it was common knowledge if you chose to speed in town, you'd get a ticket and be fined, no exceptions, in Mayor's Court.

Needless to say it didn't take long to stop speeding in Alpharetta and it remained that way as long as Q.A. was mayor and Buck was police chief.

Old saying in the south, sometimes it's hard to break a hound dog from sucking eggs, but it can be done. Same goes for speeders.

Anonymous said...

The 2 words, personal responsibility, have been erased from the minds of the American Public. Some one else do it for me, some one else give it to me, and it's your fault, and you owe it to me, are it's subsitutes.

Anonymous said...

We also need to address the problem of the drivers who constantly tail-gate and drive on and over the middle yellow line.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget those who do not use turn signals and do not stop at stop lines.

Anonymous said...

"Pope, 45, and his young son, Bryce, were both killed two weeks ago when their car swerved from the road and hit a tree. Another young boy survived."

Stark contrast to the tone of other blogs... "were both killed" and "when their car swerved" skirts the facts. Pope killed himself and his son. Had Mr. William Pope survived, we would be reading about the D.A. charges brought about (vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving, failure to maintain lane, comes to mind).

The car on it's own will wasn't willfully speeding. The driver did not intend for the event to happen. They were both wearing seat belts (stemming from the accident report and assuming correctness). Thus, the addition of safety equipment to a highly-rated safe vehicle was not a satisfactory solution for this event. Tragic loss indeed. Yet shows that a posted a speed limit is no deterrent to the perils of personal responsibility and inherent road hazards.

An over-simplistic solution would be to outlaw motor vehicles altogether.... Ridiculous? Uh?

No amount of Law Enforcement can prevent us from motor vehicle accidents.... No written Law can prevent death. No amount of cash settlements has prevent subsequent accidents....

Human nature.... the Hu factor...

Tim Enloe said...

9:21 -

I enjoyed reading your comments and agree with the majority of what you said.

Anyone 'in the know' regarding the Pope accident are well aware that William Pope was driving over 90mph. He was simply a driver with a very heavy foot. This information is easy to find.

Regardless, I am truly sorry for this happening; especially to the son Bryce - he is the one who was robbed of life.

True, if folks want to speed they are going to.

However, where I debate you is
what you said about Law Enforcement and there not ever being enough.

To me, the more officers we have and the more support they have will spark the word getting out.
That word being not to speed / DUI on any of Milton's roads;be it subdivison or open road neighborhood.

Does this insure such offenses won't happen? No. However, will it lower the odds, yes.

To finish it off, it is like a waiter telling you about the nice areas to visit and bad areas to stay away from when on vacation.
You flock to the good areas and stay away from the bad.

Same principal here.

Last thing; you seem like a person who would enjoy signing up for a 'ride along' with our wonderful Milton Officers. I would sign up if I were you. It is truly an eye opener.

All the best -

Tim Enloe
770 653 0552

Anonymous said...

I agree with Enloe. If Mr. Pope had the impression that if you speed in Milton, you WILL get a ticket, then perhaps, he would have thought twice or three times before going that fast on Birmingham. He'd of at least had the thought in the back of his mind. It is a shame that the thought of a ticket may have slowed him down, but the thought of a deadly accident by driving that fast did not.

Alas, human nature to think, "it won't ever happen to me".