OVILLA – The grace period is over for warnings given to speeders on Cockrell Hill Road.
During its Nov. 24 meeting, the Ovilla City Council lowered the speed limit from 40 to 35 miles per hour. Council member Ralph Hall was the lone nay vote, saying he had concluded that lowering the speed limit on the road wouldn’t increase safety nor be a deterrent to speeders.
“People drive prevailing conditions, that’s just a fact,” Hall said.
Two months later, the new speed limit signs are in place on the two-mile stretch of Cockrell Hill from its intersection with Ashburne Glen Lane to the city limits.
“The new speed limit signs were posted on Dec. 19, 2008,” Police Chief Mike Moon said. “We had to post a notice in the paper of the new ordinance, order the new signs and posts and wait for them to be delivered.”
Officers started enforcing the law as soon as the signs were up, but didn’t issue citations at that time. Moon said this was due to the grace period and officers were just warning citizens of the new speed limit.
“It is unknown how many stops were made during that time,” he said. “On Jan. 1, 2009, I instructed officers that the grace period was over and they were to start issuing citations on Cockrell Hill Road.
“I don’t know how many stops were made after the grace period, but there were 13 citations issued on Cockrell Hill road after the first of the year,” he said. “Not all of these citations were for speeding, but they were issued on Cockrell Hill Road. This shows that the officers are on that road enforcing the traffic laws.”
Officials believe enforcing the law on the road is a little easier with the speed limit down to 35 miles per hour.
“I wanted to see the speed limit change from the point of view that it is difficult to enforce on that road because there are very few places for the police to sit,” Mayor Bill Turner said. “My feeling is it is a dangerous place to pull someone over and I have seen people fly by me when I was doing 35 or 40.”
Council member Bill Vansyckle had lobbied for the speed limit change. He said he had hoped for a 10-mile speed limit reduction instead of five, saying he was trying to protect the 59 residents who live on Cockrell Hill Road – especially those who have to cross Cockrell Hill Road every day in order to get their mail or pull out of a driveway into traffic.
Prior to the change, there had been three traffic accidents in five years on the road.
Moon said there have been more positive than negative comments.
“Any time people drive at a lower speed the safety of everyone on the road increases,” he said. “It is too early to tell the entire impact of the overall safety on that stretch of road.
“Although the lowering of the speed limit was a positive move for the safety of the citizens, the drivers themselves make the huge difference in the safety on the road,” he said. “If all drivers practiced defensive driving and obeyed the traffic laws, there would be fewer traffic accidents and we would all be safer on the road.”