Quick, what’s the first remedy suggested by people who are fed up with lead-footed drivers?
If your answer is speed bumps you’d be right.
Cities have good reasons for not wanting to install them when people ask for them. Speed bumps are not preferred because they cause all vehicles to be forced to slow down for them – including fire engines and police cars – and at times a driver will speed up to make up for lost time.
“We especially don’t like to do that on collector streets or anything above, an arterial or expressways – that just kind of defeats the purpose,” said City Manager Tom Westbrook.
Example of collector streets are Moffet, Fowler, Hackett, Blaker – all which feed into residential subdivisions.
“It becomes a challenge to put a traffic control device there that’s not going to impede … our fire guys because their trucks are big and heavy. Having those (speed bumps) on a collector streets, when they’re trying to get to a call to provide assistance, isn’t really something that we like to do.”
An example of another city doing just that is found on Tuolumne Boulevard in Turlock between Walnut Road and Geer Road. A total of 12 speed humps and two roundabouts and other lane narrowing techniques were used along that stretch, making it a pain to drive.
“That would be a primary example of a collector street that has the street bumps … that I would be trying to avoid on my collector streets,” said Westbrook.
Roundabouts or bulb-outs are less of a concern for fire engines, he said, and are used more in Ceres. Examples in traffic calming narrowing techniques can be found on Fowler Road east of Mitchell Road.
In 2009 residents along Fowler Road had enough of the speeding down their street and the city resisted calls to put in speed bumps because the street failed to meet three of nine criteria’s for the installation of them. The city narrowed the street width near the TID canal to help slow down traffic and four years later added stop signs on Fowler Road at Lunar Drive.
Stop signs can also be installed to slow down unsafe speeds but warrants must be met before they can legally be ordered for installation.
Residents with concerns about the speed or unsafe conditions of Ceres roads can submit comments to the city’s Traffic Safety Review Committee. The Engineering Division will see if any mitigation is warranted and take action if appropriate.
Recently Ceres resident Melissa Newsom has lodged complaints about speeding at Hackett and Blaker roads so the city’s Engineering Division is taking traffic counts and speed calculations to look into the situation.
Westbrook said Ceres isn’t alone in its problem with speeding drivers or blowing off explosive firecrackers for that matter.
“In my discussions with the city managers, this is not unique to Ceres,” said Westbrook.
Most experts say that the incidence of speeding has worsened in the COVID-19 pandemic. And a lot more folks are driving at times when they shouldn’t be.
“Stress, anxiety and depression are serious mental health concerns during the pandemic, and some are turning to alcohol, drugs and opioids to manage their emotions and then getting behind the wheel,” Linda Hill, professor of family medicine at University of California San Diego, said in a statement. “Our behavior profoundly influences our crash risk.”
“Though speed management has been a problem for decades, speeding became even more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic, as less traffic has prompted some motorists to drive at high speeds on highways and city streets across the nation,” Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, said in a statement.
Speeding tends to be a more common problem among younger drivers. From 2015 to 2019, 979 California teenagers died in car crashes while 453 of them were related to speed.
“Speeding has always been a major factor in teen traffic deaths, and the fact that roads are less crowded during the pandemic is a recipe for disaster,» Michelle Anderson, the director of operations for the National Road Safety Foundation. “Young people, who are less experienced behind the wheel, may see the open roads as an invitation to speed. But driving is a skill that requires good judgement, which is why we have dedicated ourselves to engaging young people to use their creativity to develop messages that speak to their peers and adults to be responsible drivers.”
The nonprofit National Safety Council estimates in a report issued in March that 42,060 people died in vehicle crashes in 2020, an 8 percent increase over 2019 and the first jump in four years. That occurred while fewer people were on the road because of various state lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.