Speeding and Safety Issues
On Main Street

-- A Editorial by wethersfield.net --






Counting Cars & Speed
(c)wethersfield.net 2001
~ Car and Speed Counter ~




  For background information on this issue you may refer to Mr. David Buser's petition via the "Speed on Main" link in the left frame <<
































Main to Wells
(c)wethersfield.net 2001
~Southbound Main to Wells~

Speeding and Safety Issues
On Main Street
Old Wethersfield,

A Police Report and Update

-- An Editorial by wethersfield.net --

12/7/2001: Old Wethersfield, Ct:

The Division of Police of the Town of Wethersfield has responded to the concerns of some its citizens about questions of speeding and safety on Main Street by issuing a report. Approved by Chief John S. Karangekis, the report, dated November 21, 2001, was released at the request of website wethersfield.net on Monday of this week, 12/4/2001.

The police investigation and report was in reaction to a petition presented to them by David L. Buser, Main Street, Old Wethersfield, on October 3, about seven weeks earlier. Mr. Buser and some two dozen of his neighbors expressed worries and fears about the adequacy of the traffic control on Main Street especially in the vicinity of Garden Street. For details, see that petition published at wethersfield.net.

The "Support Services Bureau" (SSB) of the Wethersfield police department, under the direction of Lieutenant James Mull, conducted an investigation, performed some enforcement actions and issued the report. This reports intended to address the citizens' concerns about (1) speeding on Main Street, (2) the question of reducing the speed limit from the posted, nominal 30 MPH to the suggested 25 MPH, and (3) the nature of stop sign violations at the intersection of Garden and Main Street.

The SSB first queried the departments database of accidents on town streets and identified only 5 reported and logged accidents in the last 15 years.

A "selective enforcement action" was undertaken to stop speeders and / or stop sign violators and issue infraction summonses (3), make written warnings (4) and also verbal warnings (5). This action was conducted during brief, usually 20-minute periods over a period of two weeks, during the single hours of 7:30 - 8:30 AM and 5:30 - 6:30 PM. This involved the efforts of 9 officers on 18 occasions.

Also, a "blind speed survey" was arranged via the town's engineering department which placed the counters in both the north and south bound lanes of Main Street in the vicinity of Chesterfield Street south of Garden (nearly across from each other). These counters were to tally both the number of vehicles passing and also their calculated speed.

By local observations, these counters were in place from Friday, Nov. 2, to Friday, Nov. 9, apparently working for an entire week. The blind speed survey reported that 26,000 vehicle passages occurred during that week. The mean or "average" speed limit of all passages was reported to be between 31 - 32 MPH.

No specific commentary was made in the report about variations of speed or volume during the survey either during different periods of the day or from day to day.

The report interestingly suggested that "Main Street's roadway width and condition were found to be appropriate considering the 30 MPH speed limit." It also noted that signage was inadequate at the elbow-like confluence of Main Street and Wells Road much further south of Garden Street.

The SSB's report thus concluded that: <> that section of Main Street in question was appropriately posted at 30 MPH and did not warrant changing it;

  • that the Garden Street and Main Street intersection should be considered as having "an exceptionally safe traffic record;"
  • that enforcement should be "conducted periodically" in not only at Garden and Main, but also at Church and Main at the center of the Olde Towne; this should also be enhanced with a "strong visual police presence;"
  • and, that the police department and the town engineer conduct further discussions about and encourage changes to achieve what was called "traffic calming" not only here but on other streets in town (mentioning specifically also Back Lane and Two Rod Highway).

Only days after Buser's petition was filed, a work order was issued for improved signage at the Main and Wells bend. That was found to be nearly completed recently. (<< Image)

Defective equipment:

Inspection of the data from the two recorders, however, do not support some of the conclusions which the report presents. The two data recorders were obviously defective and each malfunctioned at least once. The northbound lane recorder was clearly defective on Sunday, Nov. 4, with a incredibly low count. The southbound lane recorder also malfunctioned on Monday, Nov. 5, again presenting incomplete and hence low counts.

These two, separate glitches cast a shadow of doubt on the overall accuracy of the count. The vehicle passages over the combined recorders for the 7 days of the test are thus clearly under-counted. The speed-segregated counts (by 5 MPH increments) were thus also flawed.

Fuzzy math:

Since the posted speed limit is 30 MPH and since the question of the neighborhood was not that the traffic was moving too slowly, the speed counts below 30 MPH should have been eliminated from the calculations. The legal, less than 30 MPH values thus diluted the significance of the speeding which does occur on Main Street.

The question which the police study should have addressed was what is the average speed of cars which are exceeding the posted limit and to what extent. Those exceeding the posted limit are the concern of the neighborhood and are a hazard to the public safety.

Even considering the mechanical malfunctions and the resulting under count both in totals and speed categories, the data as it was presented depicts are different picture than the one painted in the SSB report. In this 30 MPH zone, for the given week, the data indicated that of the vehicle passages were approximately:

  • one was calculated at 66-70 MPH
  • two were calculated at 61-65 MPH
  • one was calculated at 56-60 MPH
  • 8 were calculated at 51-55 MPH
  • 25 were calculated at 46-50 MPH ( o.1% )
  • 479 were calculated at 41-45 MPH ( 2% or about every 50th vehicle )
  • 3991 were calculated at 36-40 MPH ( 16% or about every sixth vehicle)
  • 9898 vehicles were calculated at 31-35 MPH( 40% or better than one out of three )
  • 7659 vehicles were calculated at 26-30 MPH (31%, less than one out of three )
  • and approximately 10% were slower than 26 MPH (or one out of ten )

Thus the more than HALF of the vehicles were technically "speeding" on Main Street. And, at least one-sixth blatantly speeding enough to warrant a speeding violation summons.

Conclusions revisited:

  • The reported "average" speed of vehicles on Main Street is specious, diluted by the more than compliant drivers.
  • The equipment used to conduct such "blind speed surveys" must be repaired or replaced and when in use checked frequently to assure that information gathered is reliable and complete.
  • Efforts at traffic sign and speed limit enforcement should be arranged to coincide with the data-supported highest periods of excessive speeds, not arbitrarily fixed to the same two single, brief enforcement sessions.
  • Mr. Buser's petition is thus not invalidated by this SSB report. Rather, the underlying data supports Mr. Buser's assertion that speeding is still a very real problem on Main Street.
  • The police need to devote more effort to enhancing the public safety in traffic matters on Main Street with active and not just passive means (such as new or more signs).

We know our good officers can. We know they will. And, we welcome their efforts in our behalf.




Published by
on: 2001.12.07
Rev'd: 2001.12.10
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