Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Traffic tickets to increase

The WaPo last week reported last week the fees that will be attached to certain, relatively routine traffic violations in Virginia starting July 1. I did not read these articles- just the headlines and perhaps a lead sentence (reckless driving is included).

HOWEVER- I did attend the City Council meeting last week- Council discussed a $200 increase in speeding tickets on certain roads in Charlottesville. These roads included Old Lynchburg, Avon, and some lesser known roads. I received a call today from a resident discussing this particular issue. To be honest, I had not considered this ordinance very carefully. After the call I decided to look more closely at the issue.

One bias I want everyone to be aware of, I took a tour of the JPA/Fry's Spring area with Jeanne Chase recently and I would support this increase for that road. PLEASE STOP SPEEDING ON OLD LYNCHBURG ROAD- there are no sidewalks, or shoulders. So I feel pretty comfortable with the data I have on OLR that an increase may serve as a deterrent.

Now I want to see what data supports this increase on other roads. On page 39 of the supporting materials the memo explains: "Virginia Code Section 46.2-878.2 allows local governments to develop criteria for the installation of signs indicating an additional $200 fine beyond other penalties provided by law. Generally, the road must be within a residence district; have a functional classification of minor arterial, collector or local street; and experience documented speeding problems. The VDOT Board of Supervisors Manual 2007 provides additional guidance that the posted speed limit must be 35 mph or less." This is a classic "we can, so we should" thought.

The recommendation is "adopt Ordinance for the first phase of implementation including the six roads suggested above to be in place September 1st. Evaluate these roads after a six month trial period and determine their effectiveness and whether signs should be installed on additional streets." What grand criteria are we using to evaluate? None are specified.

It is unclear why this proposal comes forward- are the other things we can do? Have the police given up trying to get people to slow down? Again I understand for OLR, I may understand for Avon (85% percentile is 51 mph in 25/35mph zone- not clear what that means but it sounds bad). With all the other fees increasing, I do not support this as another revenue stream for the City or a particularly useful way to prevent speeding. See LLoyd's comments in the final opportunity for people to speak about the 'philosophy of criminology' (I just love that phrase).
Be sure to check to see whether your street is covered.

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