Speeding has gotten out of control in many Frederick neighborhoods, and the police and the government are taking an innovative approach to try to curb the wave of lawbreaking that endangers drivers and pedestrians alike.
This week, the city unveiled Operation Safe Speed, a data-driven attempt to get ahead of this disturbing trend. Police officers will be working with the engineers from the Public Works department to analyze complaints of speeding around the city and carefully target their response.
The city has been soliciting complaints from citizens about speeding through its website, at frederickmd.gov/trafficconcern.
The forms had been going to the engineering staff, which uses them to identify problem areas and then designs ways to calm or slow traffic.
That work will continue, but now the police will use the information to try and create more focused enforcement, Cpl. David Golden, who will be leading the initiative for the department, told News-Post reporter Ryan Marshall.
Additional data will be collected from traffic enforcement records, speed camera boxes and crash data to help the city react to areas in which speeding is a particular concern.
Frederick Police Chief Jason Lando said the new program provides an important first step in addressing feedback from residents and officers. Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor added that excessive speeding harms the quality of life in the city. He is absolutely correct.
When drivers are going too fast on the streets of a neighborhood, residents will become fearful for their children and for themselves, both when driving and walking. It can degrade a neighborhood. It won’t take long for word of the lack of safety to spread, and the neighborhood becomes known as a place to avoid living.
Similar concerns about speeding led to the recent decision by New Market’s town council to acquire two portable speed cameras.
Council Vice President Lawrence “Jake” Romanell said surveys last winter along West Main Street near New Market Elementary and Middle schools found most vehicles were traveling at least 13 mph over the 25-mph posted speed limit. That is just too fast in an area where children are walking.
Officials plan to move the two cameras around within a half-mile radius of schools. The cameras will cost the town $4,400 a month per camera, though we would expect that fines will defer some of that expense. But it is more cost effective to have the cameras than assigning police officers with a radar gun to monitor around the clock.
The cost effectiveness argument might lead the city of Frederick to increase the number and placement of speed cameras as part of its speeding crackdown. The speed camera on North Market Street near Thomas Johnson High School, for instance, has been effective in reducing speeding there.
For now, Golden told our reporter, the department will use the data to designate officers on each patrol shift as traffic safety specialists, and they will conduct proactive traffic enforcement during their shifts.
Golden said he also will be doing a full analysis of complaints about speeding from the city’s Neighborhood Advisory Councils, a key source of information for locating potential problems.
We support the city’s efforts to use data from several sources in this important initiative. It literally can save lives.