SEVEN FIELDS — Joseph McCombs knows how the perception happens.
A resident standing in their yard or looking out their window sees a car driving down the road at what appears to be a fast rate, and assumes that vehicle is grossly exceeding the posted speed limit.
However, that isn't always the case according to McCombs, police chief for the Evans City/Seven Fields Regional Police Department.
“The biggest thing to realize ... (is that) 10 mph over the speed limit in a residential area ... looks like an extreme speed, and it looks a lot faster than it really (is),” he said Monday during a meeting of Seven Fields Borough council.
McCombs spoke to council after complaints were received about traffic and speed enforcement on Mars Crider Road in the borough.
Tom Smith, borough manager, said he asked McCombs to gather data from speed signs posted on that road from April 2016 until August of this year. The data was collected through the borough's speed signs, which not only show driver's their live speeds, but also records that information.
That data showed that on the road, which has a 25 mph speed limit, the average speed was about 33 mph.
McCombs said an average of 1,500 vehicles travel the road each day, and many appear to be within the target number identified by PennDOT as a safe speed.
The highest recorded speed was 63 mph, while others hovered in the 50 mph range on a few occasions.
Smith and McCombs pointed to borough code, which indicates that while speed signs gather data and take photographs of vehicles, drivers cannot be charged using that information if they are traveling 10 mph over the speed limit. A majority of drivers do just that, McCombs said, which means the signs and police visibility in the area is working.
“That's pretty effective, which means we can't spend all of our time there (and) ... we can't send and dedicate an officer to sit there all day long,” he said.
The data gathered from the speed signs also gives officers an idea of when speeding happens the most, so enforcement can be prioritized and officers can go to specific places at peak times.
McCombs added that a recent roundup of traffic stops on Mars Crider Road was 50 pages long, and Jennifer Sikora, council president, added the majority of speeding tickets come from that area.
“I know there is speeding, but I also know that we as a police force for the last three years have been very active on that particular road,” she said.
McCombs said residents should report excessive speed violations when they see them, as identifying vehicles is a key piece of enforcement. Smith added that when phone calls are received, the borough will put up signs in that area to monitor speeds and gather data.
“We're doing everything we can on Mars Crider Road, as well as the other areas,” he said.