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Is 55-65 too fast?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Is 55-65 too fast?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
October 15, 2011

Is 55MPH too fast? Like, southbound on N. Seminary Ave. (Route 47) in Woodstock, at about Donovan Street, where the speed limit is 35MPH?

A sheriff's department squad car was flying low this afternoon about 2:00PM. The deputy was blasting south and right down the middle lane on the roadway, using the two-way, left-turn lane along with his (her?) lights and siren.

I always wonder what kind of call for service justifies excessive speed? Too many crashes occur that involve speeding police vehicles using emergency equipment. And, when they occur, the deputy never gets to the scene of his call, at all. Vehicles are damaged, people are often hurt, and another deputy has to be dispatched and arrives even later.

When I lived in Lakewood, Colo., the chief of the town's new police department, Pierce Brooks, would not allow officers to run "hot" except under the most urgent circumstances. He knew, and that was in 1971, that accidents are costly in many ways.

I often hear sirens of Woodstock Police cars flying toward the Square on Lake Avenue with sirens in use. When I say "flying", I mean at what I consider to be unsafe, excessive speeds. I hear the siren approach and the engine of the car as it flies past.

How much time might an officer lose by driving 40-45, instead of 55-65? What? Maybe 15-20 seconds? They all think they are good drivers, and many of them are. But if an animal or a child on a bike or an inattentive (or distracted) motorist pulls out of a driveway or into an intersection, even the best police driver is not likely to be able to avoid a serious crash.

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