Reduce speed ahead

Published 6:35 pm Saturday, April 1, 2017

Our neighbors in Southampton County are coming to a realization that Suffolk reached some years ago: The speed limit on developed portions of U.S. Route 58 needs to be lowered.

The speed limit for much of the stretch of that road that extends from the Suffolk Bypass to Holland was reduced to 45 mph a while back when Suffolk officials recognized that development along the corridor had advanced to the point at which it was dangerous to allow traffic to move at a higher speed.

And now the times may be catching up in rural Southampton County, where a stoplight governs an intersection at Agripark Drive and Storys Station Road. There are businesses located on both sides of the highway there, and increasing traffic in the area has made it more and more dangerous for drivers headed in all directions.

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The concern is twofold. The first is one of safety. Anyone who lives in this region and regularly travels the highway going to and coming from Courtland knows that getting on and off the asphalt artery can be unnerving at times, especially with tractor-trailers right behind driving at easily more than 55 mph.

Often it seems that drivers don’t pay enough attention to their surroundings and suddenly find themselves surprised by the yellow and red lights without enough time to brake, so they decide to take their chances. The same might be said for people trying to get on or off the highway. Regardless, those are risks that can have painful, messy and even fatal consequences for more than just one vehicle and one person.

This area is the only one we know of on all of the Southeastern Virginia portion of 58 that allows drivers the 55 mph in a distinct business section. Everywhere else the speed lowers to 45.

We understand a suggestion has been made to place flashing signal lights to better warn drivers that a signal light is close. That would be a good move, but also lowering the limit will better ensure fewer chances for accidents and fatalities.

Please, let’s not wait for a high body count to justify a speed reduction of only 10 mph.