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Traffic: Computer tracks speeders in Litchfield Country Club

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

When Mike Sutula complained about speeders on the road in front of his house in Litchfield Country Club, he couldn’t answer some basic questions. How many cars? How often? What time of day?

“That got me to thinking,” said Sutula, who lives on Crooked Oak Drive. “I have no idea how many cars come through here.”

Sutula had noticed an increase in speeders since he and his wife, Patti, moved here from Baltimore about 16 months ago. “I was starting to see a good number of people jumping out of the road to get out of the way,” he said. One theory is that local drivers are cutting through the country club to avoid the congestion on Highway 17.

Sutula is a computer programmer, so he turned to the only way he knew to answer the questions about the cars on Crooked Oak Drive. He bought a software program, Speedcam 2014, and put a camera in a window facing the street. He checked the system by driving by in his own truck at 25 miles an hour and found it to be “pretty accurate.”

He recorded the cars passing his house from March 19 to April 15 between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. and collected the speeds of over 21,500 cars. The fastest was going almost 67 mph in the 25 mph zone. Sixty-nine cars were recorded at 60 mph or higher; 600 were going at least 50. About 18,000 were speeding. There was a propane delivery truck going 47 mph, a wrecker hauling an SUV going 51, a tractor-trailer doing 44 and a landscaper’s truck and trailer going 43. “If you had to stop with something like that,” Sutula said, his voice trailing off.

He worries that a pedestrian will be struck. “There are a lot of people in golf carts,” he said, “dogs, and bicyclists like you would not believe.” Crooked Oak intersects with the new bike path that runs along Kings River Road.

Sutula said the first solution suggested by highway officials is law enforcement. “If you had cops sitting here all day long, I don’t know how effective that would be,” he said.

He’s proposed speed bumps, grooves in the road, chicanes to force drivers to weave around raised pavement and stop signs at every intersection. All were rejected as either ineffective or likely to cause wrecks. How about signs warning drivers that children are playing in the neighborhood? They give parents a false sense of security, he was told.

“I want to be able to walk down the road, take my bike,” Sutula said. “I don’t know that there’s a magic bullet.”

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