Hit the brakes! Virginia lawmaker introduces bill calling for lower speed limits in residential districts

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As the 2021 General Assembly legislative session kicked off Wednesday, legislation was introduced to reduce the speed limit in residential and business districts.

House Bill 1903 would authorize local governing bodies to reduce the speed limit to less than 25 miles per hour, but not less than 15 miles per hour, in a business or residential district. The legislation was introduced by Del. Betsy Carr, who serves on the Transportation Committee.

Corey Barnett, father of two and a Henrico County resident, said he doesn’t think the speed limit should change.

“If you’re driving 25 miles per hour like I do in my neighborhood, you’re going slow enough to stop if anything happens,” Barnett said.

Barnett’s neighborhood has speed limit signs all throughout the area. The signs state that you will receive an additional fine for speeding in a residential area.

Barnett said just because he doesn’t support the legislation, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the same goal. He shared he has concerns about how effective the legislation would be.

“They would really be facing some reckless driving tickets if you took it down to 15,” he said. “But other than that, I don’t see it deterring people from putting their foot down on the pedal to get to where they’re going.”

Speed limit sign posted in Barnett’s neighborhood in Henrico County. (Photo: D’Andre Henderson)

Barnett added that his two young children love to be outside. He said because his family lives in a cul de sac, he doesn’t get nearly as much traffic on his road compared to his neighbors.

“My neighbors out here on Comet, I know that they report a lot to the police — report speeders,” he said. “So we often have checkpoints and traps out here for those people who violate that law.”

But in contrast, Marc Robinson, of the City of Richmond, shared different sentiments than Barnett.

“I feel as though any legislation, which is proposed in the interest of public safety and the safety of children, is always a move in the right direction,” Robinson said.

Robinson said that being a resident of the city, sometimes he has concerns regarding his dog and motorists.

“It brings concern,” he said. “Oftentimes your dog will walk a significant amount of steps ahead of you — it can be difficult to reel your dog back in the case of a speeding car.”

Barnett said although he sees the effort with this legislation, he just doesn’t think it will be successful.

“I think really the speed traps is what will slow people down, not speed signs,” he said.

The next step for the bill is a virtual hearing on Jan. 14.

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