Whether you live in a single family, townhome, or condominium community, your association most likely has speed limits set for the private streets within your community. The purpose of speed limits is to protect residents and guests of the community. Whenever drivers fail to obey the speed limits set on private roadways, they pose an unnecessary safety risk for everyone in the community. This article will discuss different methods used in communities to help reduce speeders on its private streets.
Prior to discussing these methods, it is important to distinguish between private and public streets running through a community. Private streets are considered part of the common area or common elements of an association. Private streets are maintained by the association and owned by either the association or by the individual condominium owners as tenants in common. Public streets are dedicated to and maintained by a city or county. The distinction between public and private streets is important because an association may not have authority to adopt and enforce rules with respect to public streets. In the event the streets running through your community are public, legal counsel should be consulted regarding your enforcement rights.
As with any type of rule, the goal of speed limits is to obtain voluntary compliance, and, in most cases, that is achieved. However, when voluntary compliance isn’t significant, other methods can be used to deter speeding within your community.
Installation of Speed Bumps
Installation of speed bumps in the streets forces drivers to slow down or experience an unpleasant jolt and possibly minor car damage. Currently, two types of speed bumps may be installed with the only difference between the two being size. The traditional speed bump is 3 to 4 inches in height and about 12 inches wide. The second type of speed bump is generally referred to as a speed hump and is between 1.5 to 3 inches in height and is slightly broader than the bump.
Speed bumps are generally recommended for smaller communities with speed limits averaging approximately 15 mph. Speed humps, on the other hand, are appropriate in larger communities with higher speed limits and traffic volumes.
An association should be aware, however, that a potential may exist for liability, or at least a law suit, when a driver damages his car by going too fast over speed bumps. To help reduce the probability of liability, the following measures may be helpful:
- placing bumps at distances recommended by professionals
- placing warning signs at entrances to the community and advising owners in writing of installation of the speed bumps in advance
- not placing speed bumps at intersections
- providing at least 150 feet of clear vision when approaching a bump
- painting bumps in a conspicuous color such as yellow
The association should additionally be aware that some municipalities enact ordinances prohibiting the placement of speed bumps or other similar speed control devices on private streets. Therefore, prior to installing any speed bumps in your community, review local ordinances to ensure there are no prohibitions against such speed control devices.
Another way to limit objections to the bumps is by involving the residents in the decision making process. For example, homeowner meetings may be held for the purpose of discussing residents’ views and opinions of speeders in the neighborhood and to obtain recommendations from the residents. Also, a committee may be formed that will attempt to contact homeowners and discuss traffic issues. Educated homeowners are more likely to voluntarily comply with rules and regulations of the association. Therefore, by openly discussing the speeding problems in your community, you may help to promote voluntary compliance with the speed limit.
Placement of Stop Signs
Stop signs will require drivers to come to a stop at designated points in the community. Strategic placement of stop signs can prevent drivers from speeding up between signs and, in turn, reduce speeding. There is no set rule regarding where to place stop signs, however, it may be most effective to place signs at intersections on longer roadways where it easy to accelerate and speed. Placing stop signs at all such intersections will make it difficult for drivers to accelerate and speed through the community.
Despite their benefits, stop signs have the practical problem of enforcement. Many drivers fail to come to a complete stop at the stop signs or, even worse, fail to slow down entirely. One option for the association is to contact its local city council or police department for assistance. The city may be willing to temporarily increase the number of patrol units sent to the community. Once the community has the reputation of being a high “ticket” area, drivers may be more likely to obey both the speed limits and stop signs.
A third alternative is for an association to purchase a radar device of some type. The two most common are a radar trailer that flashes a car’s speed in large bright numbers as it approaches the trailer or a radar gun. Either system can by utilized by an association to monitor speeders and issue warnings and fines to those violating the association’s speed limit, if desired.
Radar trailers work by drawing drivers attention to their speed in hopes of discouraging speeding. On theother hand, a radar gun is used to record a car’s speed and then issue a fine. The use of a radar gun would require monitoring. This means someone would have to physically monitor the cars as they go through the radar and record license plate information. An alternative to physical monitoring is installation of a video system that will photograph the speeders’ license plate and record the speed at which the driver was traveling. A list of community vehicles and license plate numbers will need to be maintained by the association so warnings and fines may be mailed to those observed speeding. Therefore, it may be necessary for the association to amend its governing documents or adopt a resolution requiring owners within the community to provide vehicle information to the association. In the event a speeder is
not a resident of the community, the association will not be able to issue such warnings. However, the mere presence of visible speed monitoring devices in the community may be enough of a deterrent for drivers to slow down in the community.
Speed Enforcement Provisions
Most governing documents do not provide for a speed enforcement plan. However, an
association may, after consultation with its legal counsel, adopt such a plan. A speed enforcement plan may provide for a fine system for speeders within the community. The association may designate a committee that would have authority to monitor drivers, through a radar system, and issue fines for speed limit violations.
Again, the practical problem with this type of plan is enforcement. Assuming the speeder is not a residentof the community, the association will not have a legal mechanism in place for enforcement and collection of such fines. However, if the speeder is a resident of the community, the speeder will be bound by the association’s rules. Therefore, if the association adopts a speed enforcement plan, with fines for violations, it may collect through the lien and assessment collection process, as long as the violator has an opportunity for a hearing prior to imposing the fine. The association should amply advertise its enforcement plan, for example, by way of community newsletters and/or signs. Many times a resident’s knowledge that he or she is being monitored and may be fined is incentive enough to slow down.
There is no single cure for speeders within a community. However, with a carefully thought-out plan, some speed bumps, stop signs, and speed limit signs, drivers may realize the association is serious about preventing speeders in the community and penalties may be incurred if the speed limit is ignored.