A team of Duke graduate students that worked with the Police Department on a speeding study here this school year recommends that the town step up enforcement during late-night and early-morning hours.
The study, conducted by students from the Sanford School of Public Policy in partnership with the Police Department, found that the majority of citizens obey the speed limits and the average speed for neighborhoods in town is within 4 miles per hour of the posted limit. The students identified the biggest problem as “outliers” going as fast as 60 mph and faster in 25-mph zones and recommended concentrating efforts there.
“Speeding culprits are either a small population of repeat offenders,” the students wrote in a memo to the police Chief Lawrence Capps summarizing the results, “or more likely community members as a whole, occasionally speeding in isolated incidents.”
The study measured speeds covertly and found that most of the outlier speeds were recorded between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. The students hypothesized that speeders at these hours believe they will not be caught by police or community members.
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Capps said his department should be able to implement this part of the study. “That’s certainly something we’ll be focusing on and trying to make part of our response,” he said.
Capps pointed to a Governor’s Crime Commission grant the town hopes to get to fund two new traffic officers next fiscal year as a help to enforcing speed limits.
The students’ second recommendation – that the department continue a neighborhood-based competition concept that the students used in their project – would not be practical for the department, though, Capps said, noting that he doesn’t have enough personnel to carry it out.
Members of a class called Behavioral Economics for Municipalities worked with towns across the state to implement ideas from their studies as part of the classwork.
Students began working with the town of Knightdale in August, and the town determined it could use help reducing speeding.
The group identified five neighborhoods on which to focus its efforts: Mingo Creek, Princeton Manor, Churchill, Cheswick, and Carrington Woods. They created a contest among neighbors to try to lower the average speeds there. They also surveyed 70 residents about perceptions of speeding in their neighborhood.
“The idea is that if you get people competing to reduce speeding it will have a positive impact,” the student group’s leader, Spencer White, said.
Capps said social pressure from neighbors can be a very effective deterrent to speeding when police can’t be there, noting that most of the areas studied were “one-way in, one-way out neighborhoods.”
“This is your neighborhood,” he said. “Be engaged and active in your neighborhood.”
Knightdale police issued 506 speeding citations last year.
Matt Goad: 919-829-4826