As part of the ongoing effort to slow down motorists along some rural roads in Killingworth, the town's Traffic Safety Committee is requesting $18,000 in next year's budget.
The money — three times the amount the group has received in previous years — would be used to pay for additional police patrols to specifically target speeders.
"We hate to be running around saying 'The sky is falling, the sky is falling,' but sooner or later something is going to happen," said committee chair Robert Ellis.
Ellis has collected more than two years worth of traffic data using a SpeedSpy device that shows that the overall average speed along Killingworth's roads is 10 to 13 mph above the actual speed limit. In one case, along a stretch of Route 148 (between Routes 79 and 81), drivers average 48 mph.
"They'll pass you, they'll tailgate you and then they get mad when you don't go 40 or 50 miles per hour," Ellis said.
The committee works closely with Resident Trooper Matthew Ward, who recently told the Board of Selectmen that his patrols also include stopping distracted drivers and drivers who aren't wearing seatbelts.
Ellis said Ward's enforcement, unfortunately, is limited because he is the town's only state trooper. If the board does not approve Ellis' budget request he has asked selectmen to consider hiring a second, part-time trooper to handle traffic issues.
In addition, the committee has asked the board to allocate an additional $15-$17,000 to the Public Works Department's budget — funds that would be used to replace deteriorating guard rails which could prove to be a liability for the town.
While some residents have suggested increasing speed limits, Ellis said doing so would prove difficult.
"Most of the roads in Killingworth have an old, what I call rural road footprint and they won't support high speed limits," he said, adding that changes to speed limits require approval from the state Department of Transportation, a process that would likely result in the town having to make significant, costly changes to topography and sight lines.
This spring, sections of Route 148 are expected to be changed to 35 mph, according to Ellis.
Meanwhile, the commitee recently collected data along Schnoor Road and will soon deploy the SpeedSpy on Green Hill Road and additional interior roads, including Beech Tree Ridge where the effort, for now, remains on slowing drivers down.
"If [police] wanted to ticket the people who are going 35 they'd be writing tickets until the cows came home. We're basically looking for the people who are the over 40s and we have a lot of those."