2017-07-13 / News

Atlas Supervisor concerned about speeding

By Paula K. Schmidt
810-452-2647 • pschmidt@mihomepaper.com

ATLAS TWP. – Once a very rural, agricultural part of the county, Atlas Township is now home to many residential areas, as smaller farms are sold and rural areas appear to be developed for those who want a taste of country life away from the bright lights and noise of the big city.

This has brought out a concern, discussed over back fences and on social media, and in township board meetings. Township Supervisor Tere Onica says the concern is speeding. Although all roads without a posted speed limit are deemed to be 55 miles an hour per statute, Onica says that is way too fast for many residential areas and especially too fast for dirt roads, where stopping distance can be up to 175 feet—or about one half a football field length.

The township is 36 square miles in area, and had 40 miles of unpaved, loose gravel roads, which are an extreme hazard for not only traffic reasons, but have the added annoyance of kicking up dust and loose stones which can be dangerous to other vehicles and humans who might be near the road.

“You can travel the same speed, 55 mph on an unposted gravel road as you do on a paved, engineered expressway!” Onica stated. “That is crazy.” She added that people are accustomed to being able to stop quickly on paved roads and don’t often calculate the additional stopping distance needed on gravel, which can make a vehicle lose control easily; as there is very little friction for the tires to grab onto.

With Automatic Braking Systems (ABS) a driver is 50 percent less capable of steering at higher speeds because the surface of the road, or the gravel, is actually moving, which confuses the ABS. Onica stated this makes it more difficult to avoid hitting a person or animal which might dart out into the driving lane.

Hidden driveways and the rolling hills of the township are natural features which drivers don’t think to look for either, she added. She hopes drivers will come to realize that speeding is not worth the potential cost of hurting someone or damaging their vehicle.

A recent grant by the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department has provided a speed limit enforcement sign but information about the use of the sign was not available at press time. Onica hopes however it will serve as a reminder to drivers to be more aware of their speed while driving.

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