Slower speed limit makes sense

Published 10:20 am Friday, March 31, 2017

The petitioners seeking a 45 mph speed limit on Route 58 where several businesses are located on either side of the road are certainly right in their demand, and it’s a concern that we urge many people to support by signing.

The concern is two-fold. The first is one of safety. Anyone who lives in this region and regularly travels the highway going to and coming from Courtland knows that getting on and off the asphalt artery can be unnerving at times, especially with tractor-trailers right behind driving at easily more than 55 mph.

True, there is the stoplight at the intersection with Agripark Drive and Storys Station Road. Yet too often it seems that drivers don’t pay enough attention to their surroundings and suddenly find themselves surprised by the yellow and red lights without enough time to brake, so they decide to take their chances. The same might be said for people trying to get on or off the highway. Regardless, those are risks that can have painful, messy and even fatal consequences for more than just one vehicle and one person.

To the best of our knowledge, this area is the only one we know of on all of 58 that allows drivers the 55 mph in a distinct business section. Everywhere else the speed lowers to 45. Correct us if we’re wrong about it, but even that shouldn’t be a reason not to lower the limit.

While safety should be reason enough to reduce the speed, the petitioners’ argument is strengthened by one of commerce. If residents and especially visitors don’t feel safe in getting off the highway to stop at the DQ, Hardee’s, service station, Food Lion, etc., then those businesses lose out, which eventually affects the county overall.  Fewer dollars coming in obviously means less money for other needs, such as firefighters and police. As if that weren’t enough, prospective businesses or industries will reconsider settling in the area if conditions are dangerous for employees as well as potential customers.

We understand a suggestion has been made to place flashing signal lights to better warn drivers that a signal light is close. That would be a good move, but also lowering the limit will better ensure fewer chances for accidents and fatalities.

Please, let’s not wait for a high body count to justify a speed reduction of only 10 mph.