Slowing Down Speeders

Once speed traps are gone, drivers start hitting the gas again.

Rich Van Wyk/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Police are waging a less-than-winning battle against drivers racing through neighborhoods.

In a 30 mph zone, Eyewitness News cameras captured a police officer clocking drivers at 43, 44, 45, and 46 mph.

Drivers are treating residential streets with 20-mph speed limits like highways and urban interstates.

"We'll get a 55 in a 30-mph zone," said Clayton Willis, IMPD.

Although Indianapolis police write as many as 400 speeding tickets a week, that doesn't seem to put a stop to speeding.

"People, in general, they slow down, but then once we leave they don't see a car sitting here, it becomes a race track," said Dave Bryand, IMPD officer.

Lawrence Police fare no better stopping speeders or drivers from rolling through stop signs.

"We could be out here and then once we leave, they don't see us hiding somewhere. It is right back to the way it is before," said Tracy Cantrell, Lawrence PD.

Forest Park Drive is a notorious short cut for high school students.

"I see them line up side by side and drag race," said Damion Smith.

Police say they've actually caught kids racing. On the day Eyewitness News shot video in the neighborhood, an officer stopped a driver for going 48 mph in a 30 mph in that neighborhood.

"It is frightening because there are kids who walk home. Kids walk up and down the street. I am afraid one for these kids may become a victim," said Iris Salter, home owner.

On the far south side of Indianapolis, the speed limit is 20 mph on Doris Drive. Resident John Bley wasn't surprised when we told him we found cars driving through at 35 mph.

Bley and other residents say cars often rip through here at 50 mph despite frequent police radar traps.

"They could solve the state's deficit if they watched and sat here all day and wrote tickets," said Bley. "It's that bad."

Indianapolis traffic police insist they are trying.

"Our number one priority, most of the time, is to do those traffic complaints, to be in the neighborhoods and try to slow them down," said Lt. Bart McAtee, IMPD.

But the entire city has only 30 traffic officers. Along with slowing people down, they have to direct traffic for sporting and other events.

"I think last year we did 357 special events," said Lt. McAtee.

On some days, just two officers are available all day to issue speeding tickets.

So what can residents do to reclaim their streets?

When we did this story seven years ago we found a racetrack - of sorts - where drivers would speed through at 64 mph. It's now a safe, quiet street.

"It took a fatality to make this happen," said Mary Chapman, home owner.

Homeowners in that north side neighborhood say someone died before the city finally provided the help they needed to live in peace.

In 2005 a teenager speeding down the street, struck a tree and died.

"It was devastating. We were all devastated. The whole neighborhood was devastated," Chapman said.

The speed bumps homeowners begged and begged for, but the city repeatedly insisted weren't necessary, suddenly appeared six days later.

"Speed bumps do slow people down," said Sara Holsappel, Department of Public Works

Yet in the last seven years, the city's installed speed slowing bumps on only ten streets. That's only one of every ten requested.

"That's because people aren't calling in and demanding them or when they do call in, they don't want to go through the difficult process to have them installed," Holsappel said.

75 percent of residents have to agree to speed bumps and then the city has to find 85 percent of the traffic is speeding before installing them.

More than 100 neighborhoods have asked for additional stop signs.

There are plenty in one Lawrence subdivision, but at best, police say stop signs only slow people down.

"Most people treat stop signs like yield signs," said Vladimir Kryjanovski, Lawrence Police Department.

Residents say while radar patrols do help, they don't entirely solve the problem.

"It's the high school kids, if they only knew what they are doing, it's so dangerous."

It appears as if the adults are just as bad. Police say most of the drivers they ticket live in the neighborhoods they are speeding through.

Homeowners looking to make streets safer may have to only look next door or in the rear view mirror.

Who do you see in that rear view mirror? Possibly yourself.

Every police officer Eyewitness News talked with said many times the drivers they catch speeding, are often the residents who called in complaining.

If speeding is a problem in your neighborhood, try the following:

Indianapolis Police Dept.
Traffic Division

IMPD District Offices

IMPD Email

Mayor's Action Center

Speed Bumps
Dept. of Public Works
Carol McAdams
1200 S Madison Ave.
Indianapolis IN 46225