Over the years my neighborhood, and many others, have appealed to Greensboro's Department of Transportation (GDOT) to install speed humps on some of our streets to slow traffic. It is not unusual for cars to travel in excess of 45 mph along our narrow streets that are used as a "cut through" for folks trying to avoid collector street stop lights.
We have been repeatedly rebuffed. The standard reason that GDOT gives for not installing speed bumps on residential streets is the City's liability for damages... to the speeder. They claim that if a car is traveling too fast and hits a speed bump then careens out of control thereby causing damage to the speeding car or nearby property - the city could be liable for those damages. I'm not making this up.
The N&R carries an AP story today that may turn the tables on the liability question. The American Journal on Public Health has published a definitive study (free abstract) that shows that when speed humps are installed on residential streets, car vs children injuries/deaths decline by over 40%.
June Tester, the study's lead author says, "One of the reasons this research is important is that a lot of times there are things that seem intuitive." Indeed... speed bumps are an "intuitive" measure, but for many years GDOT has consistently placed the City's financial liablity concerning speeders above the safety of children through a policy that is way out of whack with the best interests of the community.
If, after GDOT has been apprised of the study, a child is injured (or worse) by a speeding car in a street section where a neighborhood has requested a speed bump, the question of liability might be looked at in a whole different light by the courts. If the City refuses to install a neighborhood requested speed hump, and a child is killed because of a speeding car that would otherwise have been slowed by the requested speed hump... who is liable then?
Speed humps (and their evil twin, speed "bumps"), as a traffic slowing measure, have been used in the private sector forever. It is time for Greensboro to change its policy to reflect not only common sense, but now, proof of their effectiveness. The lives and health of our (my) children are at stake.