Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's not just Speed Enforcement, it's a paradigm shift towards a Safer Community.

If you have followed this site for any time you know that speeding drivers, especially near residential communties is one of the quality of life and public safety issues that I am pushing to improve.

Last week a middle school student was hit by a car on Chamblee Dunwoody whereby the boy needed brain surgery to save his life and his leg was broken in 36 places requiring many additional hours of surgery. This week I have had conversations with four parents from the area of the incident that want more done regarding the problem of speeding since they are extremely worried for their children's safety.

They want more speed enforcement, improved crosswalks, additional traffic lights, radar signs and one resident even mentioned that she wanted video cameras on school buses to levy tickets against drivers who routinely go around stopped school buses with the STOP sign out. With school soon to be let out we know that the volume of traffic goes down but the average speed then goes up and it is no longer a concern of allowing your child to walk to school but now a concern that your child can not safety drive his bike to the neighborhood swimming pool.

I believe that we as a City are doing everything we can with the resources available but to at least one person I talked to, we are not moving fast enough to change the mindset of the drivers. The real issue is that there are no easy solutions and nothing can be done over night to assure the safety of our residents, but trust me; we are seriously working on it from several angles.

Later today I am anticipating an announcement from GDOT regarding our application for the $500,000 Safe Routes to Schools Grant to improve pedestrian safety and we are keeping our fingers crossed for positive news. No matter the final outcome, I am proud of the package that the newly formed City put togetharer with a group of dedicated parents representing every Dunwoody public school, along with assistance from the DeKalb County School System we submitted for our first official grant application. Long term safety improvements will come from the citywide analysis conducted by the team and I look forward to seeing the capital improvement requests that the Dunwoody School Cluster (through the DCPC) will be putting forth to improve walking conditions for all students in the community.

The City just completed a successful demonstration project on fixed radar speed limit signs and now the Council needs to determine the feasibility of obtaining these devices, their placement and finally their funding. The long term safety effects of these devices have been proven and now we just need to find a way implement. Besides the fixed sign research that the city has been conducting, the Dunwoody Police Department has purchased and deployed a new speed trailer to also combat neighborhood speeding.

Finally we all know that change happens slow and there will be some who will fight the process, complain of the enforcement even when they are admittedly guilty by their own account of the facts. I saw one such complaint this week regarding a speeding ticket where the person admitted that he was going 25 mph over the speed limit on Womack (doing 60 in a 35) but thought the fine of $400.00 was too high a penalty.

Guess what, the fine wasn't too high as the Judge sets the fine level based on the fine structure approved by the City Council, which was based off of comparisons with other communities. What really happened was that the driver wasn't aware of the paradigm shift, the new reality that Dunwoody is a city where the rules and laws are to be obeyed.

For some, change happens too slow and for others the change happens faster then they drive.


Paula Caldarella said...

Amen, John!!!

There have been at least 4 school children that have been hit by automobiles this school year. For those of you complaining about being ticketing for speeding, hopefully none of your loved ones becomes a statistic.

Worth Wells said...

I am at amazed with how much fodder I have read regarding speeding. Come on, how hard is it to not drive too much over the speed limit? I went to DHS in the early 90's and there use to be a Dekalb motorcycle cop that sat down by open campus and pick off students one by one coming down towards the college. I just have it engraved in my brain not to speed around Dunwoody and so far have not been late to anything nor missed any event! In full disclosure, I must admit in hs I did get a speeding ticket on Peeler b/t NPtree and Cham-Dun.

Jude said...

My son is a good friend of the 7th grader that was hit on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. Does the person that hit him realize that they have changed his life forever? He is currently still at Scottish-Rite and has a very long recovery. I hope the driver was punished SEVERELY! I am so angry about this happening I can't even express the words. So very sad...

Worth Wells said...


It is a tragic situation, but facts are facts.

“The child never looked as he crossed the street, and the driver, going west on Chamblee Dunwoody, tried to stop,” Carlson said. “It was by no means the fault of the driver.”

DunwoodyTalk said...
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CeeCee said...

I was disappointed by the Crier's choice of words. While I understand the child made the tragic decision not to use the crosswalk, it's tasteless of the paper to say he "darted" into the street, particularly given there were no eyewitnesses.

There are two victims here -- the driver who has to live with the "woulda coulda shoulda" and the child who has to grow up with the injuries. But let's all give each other the benefit of the doubt, and just do our parts to avoid these kinds of accidents (and worse) in the future.

DunwoodyTalk said...
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Brian Morton said...

I think DPD so far is doing a MUCH better job with local speed enforcement than DeKalb County did. However, it would be nice to see them writing tickets in neighborhoods and on smaller streets. I see them most mornings enforcing the school zone in front of Austin Elementary, which is very "high profile". School zones already have many mechanisms encouraging drivers to slow down. Meanwhile, lots of drivers speed through Village Mill at least 10-15 over.

Perhaps Dunwoody residents are afraid of being "bit by their own dog", so to speak. However, it is not really sensible to demand speed enforcement on through roads and ignore the streets where citizens live. I think aggressive enforcement of residential speed limits is key to having a safer community.