Douglas Co. transportation officials want to raise speed limits on some county roads

by: Carl Willis Updated:


DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga. - A local transportation office wants to slow down speeders, but they're planning to do so by raising the speed limit on more than 20 roads.

In neighborhoods and rural areas just a few miles removed from Interstate 20, you'll find hilly, narrow roads winding through Douglas County.

There's just one dangerous problem according to residents and deputies.

"(Drivers) fly through here," said Mickey Penland. "It's nothing to see a car going 60 to 70 mph."

Douglas County Chief Deputy Stan Copeland told Channel 2's Carl Willis the speed limit signs are having little impact.

"An unenforceable speed limit is no speed limit at all," Copeland said.

That's why the county's transportation office and the sheriff's office would like to issue more speeding tickets.

Copeland said that would require the county to raise the speed limit. He explained the approach that sounds backwards.

He said his deputies simply aren't permitted by the state to use radar or laser on certain roads with lower speed limits.

"The only thing that we can do is visually clock those people by pacing," he said.

However, he said a deputy tailing a driver to "clock" them with the speedometer hasn't been effective.

After complaints from residents, the county's transportation department conducted surveys and came up with 20 stretches of roadway where they would bump up speed limits by five to 10 mph.

That way, they can send the list of roads to the state Department of Transportation to get permits to use speed-measurement devices.

"We have a lot of injuries and deaths on county roads and the only way to really slow people down is to use laser and radar and work an area," said Copeland.

Still, some residents aren't sold.

"Sometimes the speed limit is not the issue," said Bambi McCarty. "A lot of times it's the people not paying attention to what they're doing."

Wayne Simpson thinks higher speed limits might encourage even riskier driving.

"The curves are tricky," he said. "If you push it up to 55 around here, people will be running off the road."

The state has the final word.

The process was put in place to prevent local jurisdictions from setting up and raking in revenue from speed traps.

"Is this an attempt to try to reinstate speed traps?" Willis asked Copeland.

"Oh, absolutely not," Copeland said. "If I want to write citations for revenue, I can get out here on I-20 and the deputies couldn't take a lunch break."

The proposal was brought before the county commission on Monday. A public hearing will be next.