By a 6-1 vote, Milton Town Council rejected a proposal to lower the speed limits in downtown from 25 mph to 20 mph.
The proposal was presented June 5 as a resolution, which would essentially ask the Delaware Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit to 20 mph for cars and 15 mph for tractor-trailers. The resolution also called for a 10 mph speed limit in school zones when children are present.
Councilwoman Randi Meredith presented in favor of the resolution, saying a lower speed limit would improve safety. She cited studies of municipalities in America and all over the world that have taken measures like this and seen improvements in curtailing speeding and serious accidents.
“I think it is one of the easiest and most effective and budget-conscious ways of preventing fatalities and serious injuries within our town,” Meredith said.
However, the proposal was met with almost immediate resistance from other council members.
Mayor John Collier said he had concerns of what lowering the speed limits could lead to. He said on roads like Union and Federal streets, there is parking on both sides, and with slower traffic, it could create even more of a traffic bottleneck on those streets than what already exists.
Councilman Scotty Edler said a split speed limit plan could be confusing for motorists and wondered whether issues with speeding could be solved with enforcing current laws and possibly adding speed cameras.
Councilwoman Lee Revis-Plank said the town should increase fines for speeding and continue to enforce current laws. She said lowering the speed limit could have unintended consequences, and she needs more information before moving forward.
“I don’t think lowering the speed limit by 5 mph is going to make that much of a difference. I think it’s the wallet. And being able to free up enough of our officers’ time to do that kind of enforcement,” she said.
Police Chief Derrick Harvey said he has a limited force – only eight officers – and it will take them away from enforcing other laws if they are having to go to court constantly for speeding tickets. He said many of the municipalities Meredith cited as having lowered their speed limits have far larger police forces than Milton, some of which have a dedicated traffic unit.
With that, council moved to reject the resolution, which passed by a 6-1 vote, with only Meredith opposed. She called the vote disappointing.