County Board made right decision on speed limits

I T COULD BE ARGUED that, at least in some circumstances, no speed limit is enforceable.

After all, it takes a law enforcement presence on any particular stretch of road or highway to enforce the speed limit there and it’s obvious that law enforcement can not be everywhere all the time.

That makes all speed limits unenforceable, at least to some degree.

That doesn’t mean, however, that any reasonable person would argue that all speed limits should be eliminated everywhere.

Yet, when the County Board earlier this month considered lowering the speed limit on several stretches of county highways along Elkhart Lake from 45 mph to 35 mph, some supervisors argued that the reduction should be rejected because it was unenforceable.

Supervisor Thomas Epping argued that drivers already exceed the 45 mph speed limit on County A on the east side of the lake and County P on the west side of the lake and lowering the limit to 35 mph would make “enforceability … very difficult.”

The request for the speed limit reduction came from residents along both roads and in the town of Rhine and village of Elkhart Lake. They were studied carefully and thoroughly by county officials and recommended by two County Board committees, the Law and Transportation committees.

The stretch of County A in question runs through a residential area on the south side of the village of Elkhart Lake. The stretch of County P in question runs past the county boat launch on the west end of Elkhart Lake.

The boat launch is one of the most, if not the most, popular and used public boat launches in the county. With a parking lot across the road, there is considerable vehicle and pedestrian traffic across that stretch of County P, especially during the summer.

Village and local officials are in the preliminary stages of creating a public walkway around Elkhart Lake. Because much of the lakefront is private property, with landowners who would understandably be reluctant to allow a public walkway across their property, much of that walkway would likely have to be along public roads like County A and County PP.

With all of that potential foot traffic added to the existing pedestrian and vehicle traffic along and across those highways, the safety impact of a lower speed limit seems inherently obvious.

Yes, the new speed limits might be unenforceable if one relies only on the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department – and, along part of County A, the Elkhart Lake Police Department – to enforce them by patrolling them and issuing citations.

However, like most speed limits, the most effective enforcement is not by law enforcement but through selfenforcement by conscientious drivers – the same as most if not all speed limits.

More drivers than not will obey a lower speed limit when posted – perhaps not happily, in some cases, but they will obey.

And that will make these particular stretches of highway safer for people walking from their vehicles to the boat launch on County P, people walking from their homes to the lake across County A, or people enjoying a walk around or along the lake on either road.

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