By Charles Sercombe
Channel 7 news investigator Scott Lewis is not putting the brakes on his recent story about Hamtramck’s speed trap.
On Tuesday night, Lewis did a follow up on his original story that aired over a week ago. Lewis trained his camera on the I-75 service drive, particularly the portion between Holbrook and Caniff.
The entire service drive has a speed limit of 25 miles per hour. Lewis talked with experts from the state police and the National Motorists Association both of whom said 25 miles per hour is unheard of for a service drive, and may in fact be illegal as well as dangerous.
According to state law, each community is required to perform a traffic study to determine speed limits.
Unfortunately, there is no enforcement mechanism in the law to punish communities that fail to undertake the study.
City Manager Bill Cooper has said the city has no money to perform the test.
But Lewis did one for the service drive and it only took him a couple of hours to complete it. According to the method recommended by the NMA, anywhere from 50 to 100 motorists are clocked at how fast they are driving.
You then discard the top and bottom-most speeds recorded, and average out the remainder. What you have left is considered a reasonable speed limit.
Anyone who has driven this stretch of the road knows it’s nearly impossible not to go faster than 25 miles per hour. Lewis and his crew discovered the correct speed limit – the one that most drivers go at – is 40 miles per hour.
Although Hamtramck officials claim they don’t have any money to perform the traffic studies, the city sure is rolling in traffic fines. Try to the tune of at least $60,000 a month – the amount police officers promised to deliver in order to save over a dozen of their jobs.
The quota system was hatched two years ago when Cooper and the City Council were seriously considering major budget cuts in the face of a multi-million dollar deficit.
City officials vehemently deny there is a speed trap here. Many of those ticketed, Lewis found out, beg to differ.
In the 1980s, Hamtramck had the dubious distinction of having several speed traps. The NMA recently ticked off five speed traps in the city.
What are the chances of Hamtramck ending this practice? Considering that budget woes will only get worse in the coming year, don’t hold your breath to wait for that traffic study.