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You Can Go Faster, if 85% of Drivers Say So

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  • T. J. Binkley
    It s that time again. Once more, California motorists get their chance to personally contribute to improving road safety ---by driving even faster:
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 28, 2001
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      It's that time again. Once more, California motorists get their chance to
      personally contribute to improving road "safety"---by driving even faster:

      http://www.latimes.com/editions/ventura/la-000094633nov28.story?coll=la%2Deditions%2Dventura

      (the best part is the end, where city officials demonstrate the depth of
      their commitment to safe streets by assuring us that even if motorists feel
      safe doing 65 MPH on city streets, they MIGHT NOT allow that speed).


      You Can Go Faster, if 85% of Drivers Say So

      Thousand Oaks: City could increase limits on some roads in the next few
      months, if most motorists are exceeding posted speed.

      By KEVIN F. SHERRY, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

      Commuters, start your engines.

      During the next few months, Thousand Oaks officials plan to increase speed
      limits on some city roadways.

      Every five years, the city conducts traffic surveys to find the optimum
      speed for safe driving. The surveys--which should be completed early next
      year--measure how fast vehicles travel on a particular roadway. The speed
      at which 85% of those vehicles travel is considered safe for that street.

      "You have to set [the speed limit] within 5 mph of the 85th percentile on
      that street," Nelson said. "To set a limit lower than that is actually
      instituting a speed trap."

      Nelson said the city has about 136 street segments with speed limits more
      than 5 mph lower than the 85th percentile. That means a motorist ticketed
      on one of those segments by an officer using a radar gun could successfully
      challenge the citation in court.

      Traffic surveys serve as a backup for officers, said Sgt. Patti Salas of
      the Thousand Oaks Police Department's traffic bureau. "It's important for
      our streets to be in compliance so we can do effective enforcement," she said.

      The city will look at major arterial and secondary streets, said Jim
      Mashiko, a senior civil engineer in the city's traffic division.

      "They've gone to court on a couple of these streets and the judges have
      dismissed citations," Mashiko said.

      To measure traffic speeds, surveyors use radar guns on vehicles during
      off-peak hours.

      "We try to be out of view of the approaching motorist," Mashiko said.
      "Usually, we will try to get a sample of 100 vehicles."

      The city plans to work with Caltrans to amend some aspects of the
      85th-percentile requirements, Nelson said. For instance, even if a survey
      indicates that drivers feel safe at 65 mph on a Thousand Oaks street, the
      city is not likely to allow that speed.

      "That's just flat-out too fast for city streets," he said. "The real issue
      for us is roadway safety."
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