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The Gadsden Times

Elaine Harris Spearman Commentary: It's time to crack down on speeding in city, county

By Elaine Harris Spearman,


It was bound to happen. The good thing is no lives were lost or changed forever.

The truck speeding down Broad Street in Gadsden took the front off of the building occupied by Downtown Gadsden Inc. As I was growing up in the city, the building was known as Runt’s Place, and was a seriously overlooked site by African Americans.

The crash into the building again brought to the fore the out-of-control speeding in Gadsden and its environs.

The mayor has stated that something must be done to curb speeding on Broad Street, Gadsden’s main street. While I agree, I say that something needs to be done about speeding not only in Gadsden, but the entire of Etowah County.

There are a lot of deaths that can be attributed to speeding. Although suspicions exist in the immediate accident of alcohol involvement, most do not involve driving under the influence.

Many of the accidents and deaths involve pure speeding, reckless driving, road rage and just ignoring stop signs, speed limit signs and, yes, traffic lights.

It is increasingly noticeable that tailgating is becoming commonplace. You look in the rear-view mirror to see a vehicle speeding upon your bumper, as you question whether they will stop before a crash.

Speeding is not limited to any age group. Lest you believe that it is the young, know that the speeding infirmity crosses all age groups, all genders and all races. Motorcycle riders seem to believe that rules of the road do not apply to them as they weave in between vehicles on the road at high rates of speed.

It is difficult to understand why people feel the need to speed on Broad Street. As I stopped on Third Street to make a right turn onto Broad, I saw a black truck traveling at a high rate of speed. I thought, “I will look into the front window to see what kind of person was in this big of a hurry.” I looked straight into the face of a mean, determined old man. The look on his face spoke volumes.

With Gadsden making strides to become inviting to prospective residents, visitors, business owners and all prospective taxpayers, pedestrians have to feel safe. People should not have to be in fear of crossing the street.

Speeding is not limited to the main boulevards and roadways. It is occurring in the neighborhoods and streets where people live. There are black tire markings that are obviously the results of “doughnuts” that are making for dangerous situations in certain neighborhoods. The markings left are unsightly.

In many areas in Gadsden and Etowah County, mailboxes are on the side of the road. Of course, this makes mail delivery easier on the carrier. Some are in front of the property, others are across the road. How long is it going to take before someone’s life is lost simply trying to retrieve the mail?

Speeding drivers often lose control of their vehicles. Should innocent people be victimized by a speeding person, who is also on a cellphone?

Notice how many residents have begun to put up signs at the edge of their property admonishing drivers to slow down. They are also posting speed limits. Should those residents have to try to enforce speed limits? Should they have to warn drivers that there are “children playing?”

Let’s just go on and say it: Enforcement of rules of the road must start at home. Those who drive marked and unmarked city-owned vehicles must be made to know that speeding, stop signs, traffic signals and speed limits also apply to them, too.

We are not talking about emergency vehicles or those vehicles with flashing lights that give warning. We are referring to those who are handling city department business on a daily basis that causes them to be on the roadways.

There is no entitlement to drive as you see fit. There should be a thrust to decrease city liability. The same applies to marked and unmarked Etowah County vehicles.

It is time to do something about speeding where we live, work, involve ourselves in community service, pay our taxes and try to make our home. We deserve better.

Elaine Harris Spearman, Esq., a Gadsden native, is an attorney and is the retired legal advisor to the comptroller of the City of St. Louis. The opinions expressed are her own.

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