Speed In Rural Areas - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

01/28/08 - Nacogdoches County

Speed In Rural Areas

by Donna McCollum

Unless you have a specific reason to go to Sand Hill, you're likely to zoom through it without even knowing. It's not a city. It can't even qualify as a town. But residents live up and down this part of the Old San Antonio Road. The Highway 21 community is like so many other rural areas in East Texas. Residents must deal with the fast speeds. Hazel Gregory said,  " I don't want to fool around. They jump over those hills. They be running coming through here. "

The highway department can slow things down. A speed and traffic study led to a slower advisory speed around a curve, but the enforceable speed hasn't changed. Texas Department of Transportation Director of Transportation Operations, Herbert Binkley said,  " The posted speed limit through this area is 70 miles per hour, as it it along most of State Highway 21. There are some areas that are lower. "

How fast we're told to go is determined by road conditions and population, but it boils down to a statistical average bickley explained,  " The basis of speed studies is what's call the 85th percentile. "  That means 85 percent of the motorists drive at safe speeds. The other 15 percent don't. Speed studies on at least 125 vehicles, every 2/10 a mile for a minimum of two hours determines the range.  

A random radar check by DPS Trooper Greg Sanches found a better than 85 percent compliance this day.  " It doesn't appear to be a major problem. Again, it just goes back to driver error."  

During the last three years there have been five accidents recorded in Sand Hill. The one car accidents involved animals, driving in an unsafe manner, a high speed chase, and a DWI. Last year there was a multiple fatality just west of Sand Hill, but not in the immediate community.

Retired truck driver Rayford Coleman owns property in the area. He doesn't mind the fast lane.    " I think if you're out on the open highway that 70 miles an hour is a fine speed. " While his cousin, Hazel, prefers a slower pace.   He said,  " My experience when you pull out on the highway you had better get out there and get going because they're coming so fast they'll run over you. "

Speed can be a matter of opinion. It's the Department of Transportation's job to reach a compromise, the DPS' job to enforce it and the motorist's responsibility to drive safely, no matter the speed.

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