Recently, I was driving home from a meeting with my windows down and my sunroof open, enjoying the warm air. I was driving down a pretty steep hill in Manayunk—go figure—when I heard two people scream at me and my little steel blue car.
“Slooooooow down!” a little kid screamed from the curb.
“Slow the [expletive] down you [expletive] little [expletive]!” his mother screamed.
The kid then threw a rock at my car, hitting its rear quarter panel.
I don’t think the child was reprimanded; I let it roll off my back.
I wasn’t speeding down the hill; rather, I was compression braking in first gear. The revs were up, my car sounded like it was going fast (with its newly-installed, sweet-sounding exhaust), but I was actually driving well under the posted 25 mph speed limit—and getting infinite gas mileage to boot.
It’s OK, though. I understand that people get crazy about drivers speeding through their neighborhoods (even though I wasn’t speeding, and now my car has a ding on it). As well they should. I know I do. Nothing is more dangerous or infuriating than a driver barreling down a small, narrow residential street.
The Abington Public Safety Committee passed a motion Wednesday approving a townshipwide residential speed limit of 25 mph. It will go before the board of commissioners later this month.
The proposed ordinance doesn’t change much. State law still puts the residential speed limit at 25 mph, according to Abington Police Chief William Kelly. But the proposed townshipwide ordinance means that the police department can enforce it—without having a speed limit sign on every block.
I support it—and I’ve even been nabbed by speed cameras on highways. (I think speed cameras are unconstitutional, and I would rather pay $1,000 to hire an attorney to fight the fine rather than just paying the $100 fine, but that’s a different topic.)
My car was pretty fast when it was introduced, and it’s still relatively fast now. It corners nicely, too. I’m a car enthusiast, and I admit that I’ve driven too fast on several interstates, and I’ve carved several mountain roads in central Pennsylvania. (The latter is like a high.)
But I rarely go above 25 in a 25-mph zone; and I never go beyond a posted 15-mph limit. People looking at my bumper will get antsy, some will honk, but I always hold my ground.
There are fewer variables to cause a crash on a highway, namely animals and other drivers. But, if there are no other motorists around, a speeder is likely just putting his own life at risk.
This is not so with residential streets.
There are so many things that could cause a crash—children, people, cyclists, balls, car doors—the list is limitless. In fact, this is probably the reason drivers’ exams take place on residential streets rather than the highway, where you can simply set the cruise at 65 mph and well … cruise.
There should be massive penalties for breaking a 25-mph speed limit or driving erratically on a residential street. The penalties should be crippling financially and should include license suspension after say … three times or so.
As I was driving home from the public safety committee meeting on Wednesday, I found myself on Wheatsheaf Lane—a residential street. Behind me was a driver in a silver sixth-generation Nissan Maxima. He attempted to pass me on the left as I drove toward Susquehanna Road. At one point, he was next to me (Maybe he thought for a moment he was in Europe.) as I was clearly driving too slowly (25 mph). He pulled up next to me at the intersection, and no other vehicles could enter the road from Susquehanna.
I hope he saw me roll my eyes through his tinted windows.
That kind of driving should warrant a $1,000 fine and the loss of a license. I know imposing a townshipwide 25-mph speed limit could turn into a revenue-generating situation for the township, but on residential streets, I don’t mind it.
People should slow down on residential roads, and if they don’t, they should pay through the nose.
Until ridiculously high fines for residential areas are implemented, I guess we’ll have to rely on rock-throwing kids.