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Speed Humps vs. Speed Bumps
In an effort to get drivers to slow down, many towns have considered, or been asked by citizens, to construct speed bumps, or humps, or tables, etc on public roads. If these public roads are townways, then the decision can be made by the municipal officers. If these roads are State Highways or State Aid Highways (inside or outside urban compact areas), then these controls are generally not allowed.
In contemplating this decision, a town must consider several related issues. If the road is planned for reconstruction or it is a new subdivision road, then a "different" design could be done that incorporates traffic calming measures in the geometry so that humps or bumps are not needed.
However, if the road exists today and people are looking to the town to slow drivers down, then the municipality has a few options.
From the legal perspective, it's important to pass a "traffic ordinance". As stated in State law 30-A MRSA Section 3009, "the municipal officers have exclusive authority to enact all traffic ordinances in the municipality.". Therefore, the Board of Selectmen (or Town Council) can authorize the use of these traffic control devices. From a liability perspective, anyone will sue for anything and a speed hump could be viewed as a "highway defect".
However, State law 23 MRSA Section 3651(1) states that "legal objects are not defects. Trees, structures and other things which exist in accordance with municipal ordinances are not defects in a public way". It may also be difficult to prove that they are dangerous especially when they have been used successfully by some many entities in the US and in foreign countries. If the Town decides to start allowing these humps, I would want to make sure that they are properly designed and marked and signed according to the standards in the MUTCD.
It's important to consider all the ramifications before you decide to open this "can of worms". Once you install one hump, many other folks will want them on their road.
Examples of Speed Humps
Examples of Speed Bumps
Traffic Calming Information
Much more information can be found on "traffic calming" at the following links:
This page last updated on 1/9/13
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