LETTER TO THE EDITOR: 85th percentile a dangerous law
July 2, 2010
It has been a year since the speed limits on certain county roads were raised. We live adjacent to the part of Pioneer Trail that had its speed limit increased from 45 to 50 miles per hour. Five miles an hour doesn’t seem that big of a deal, right? Wrong. Eighty-five percent of drivers were driving 50 miles per hour under the old 45 mph speed limit. This law, the “85th percentile,” mandates that speed limits be raised to the faster speeds. What speed do you think people are driving now? Especially since this is one of the few straight-aways on Pioneer Trail?
We have lived along this stretch of road for over 16 years. In those 16 years, we have witnessed a few fender benders. However, since the change in speed, we have witnessed three partial roll-overs and two out-of-control vehicles that came careening through the ditch that separates our street of 23 homes from this stretch of Pioneer Trail. We have never seen so many cars traveling at such high speeds, and we are wondering what, if any, considerations were made for residents that live adjacent to this stretch of road, icy conditions, motorists’ mentalities when faced with a straightaway, and lastly, wildlife.
I mention wildlife because of what we witnessed last Sunday night. A mother bear and her two cubs were attempting to cross the street. A car traveling the posted speed limit or more destroyed one of the cubs. Neighbors used flashlights to simply slow people down so that no more damage could be done to these poor creatures. In the middle of the road, the mother bear and her remaining baby cub lingered over the lifeless body as we averted traffic. She finally grabbed her dead cub and took it off into the woods. This was the most heart-wrenching scene that I have witnessed on this stretch of killer road.
Raising a speed limit to 50 miles per hour without taking factors of wildlife, ice, residents, and common sense into account leave us shaking our heads and cleaning up the blood.
South Lake Tahoe