People place blind trust that the governments responsible for determining speed limits are qualified and have conducted a proper analysis to arrive at the correct number. Many firmly believe that driving even just a little above the posted limit can be indeed be extremely dangerous. But this new video on Youtube shows that posted speed limits we see are sometimes nothing more than the result of a political whim, as in the city of Peoria, AZ the limits are established by ordinances that are established by the city council. Although difficult to see, the video shows a roadway in North Peoria, the stretch of Pinnacle Peak between 83rd Ave & 91st Ave where speed limits are set for 30mph going Westbound, but 45 going eastbound. There is no discernible difference in each side of the road (low density residential with no schools or school crossing), and the road is one lane in each direction. What could the engineering justification possibly be to call for a 15mph difference in speed limits based only on what direction you’re going? The only reasonable answer is that the city wants to create a speed trap.
The video also shows another location just south of Happy Valley Road on 91st Ave. As you approach the 3-way intersection, the last 1/8 of a mile drops from 40mph to 30mph. When you turn from Happy Valley onto 91st Ave southbound, you can go 45mph for the 1st 1/8th mile, then the limit drops to 30mph for about 3/8 of a mile, then raises up to a standard 40mph limit. Again, there are no schools and no discernible changes in road design or neighborhoods over these distances. These limits are nothing more than a speed trap, and nothing more than city officials screwing with drivers.
What’s interesting is how all of this sharply contrasts with information published by ADOT about speed limits:
[Since most citizens can be relied upon to behave in a reasonable manner as they go about their daily activities, many of our laws reflect observations of the way reasonable people behave under most circumstances. Traffic regulations are invariably based upon observations of the behavior of groups of travelers under various conditions.
[Generally speaking, traffic laws that reflect the behavior of the majority of vehicle operators are found to be successful, while laws that arbitrarily restrict the majority of drivers encourage wholesale violations, lack public support, and usually fail to bring about desirable changes in driving behavior. This is especially true of speed zoning.]
ADOT continues to explain that reducing speed limits will NOT change traffic speeds and will not change accident frequency and that there is no “direct relationship between posted speed limits and accident frequency” and that, “speed in itself is not a major cause of accidents.” ADOT then proceeds to identify such locations as those described in North Peoria as a speed trap:
[It is accepted within the traffic engineering profession that there is a demonstrated need to produce as much uniformity as possible in the traffic flow and to eliminate the so-called speed trap. A speed trap may be defined as a street or road which is wide enough, straight and smooth enough, and sufficiently free of visibility limiting obstructions to permit driving a certain speed, but where the law nevertheless calls for a much lower speed.]
According to ADOT, “Speed zoning in Arizona is based on the widely accepted principle of setting speed limits as near as practicable to the speed at or below which 85 percent of the drivers are traveling.” But after spending a few minutes on the side of the road at either of these locations one can clearly see that the 85th percentile speed is closer to 40 or 45mph (common on Phoenix-area arterial roads) than the 30mph displayed on the speed limit signs.
So why is the city of Peoria so careless about road safety? There are only a few possible answers:
Arrogant and/or incompetent city council who either believes they are qualified traffic engineers or that they know more than traffic engineers.
They have allowed incompetent city traffic engineers to remain employed.
They are more interested in revenue generation from speed traps than safety.