Residents voice concern over speeding (Updated)

Southborough is known for being a safe community with very little crime. However, there is one major issue affecting the town: speeding.

From January to March of 2024, the Southborough Police Department issued 1,022 speeding citations. Many residents are wondering if that is enough to protect the roadways.

According to police chief Ryan Newell, Route 9 (both east and west) between White Bagley and Middle Road has the highest volume of speeding violations. Just behind it in violations is Cordaville Road.

Despite the volume of citations issued, many residents are concerned that the police department simply isn’t doing enough. Southborough resident Scott, who asked to have his last name omitted, said, “It’s difficult to walk our roads without fear of being hit by a speeding car.” This sentiment is often corroborated by posts on the Southborough Care and Share Facebook group and the platform Nextdoor.

In the Emergency & Social Services section of Southborough’s satisfaction survey, 41.07% of respondents felt that enforcement of local traffic laws should receive either primary or secondary emphasis from the police department within the next two years.

For the SPD, most speeding is enforced through officer-initiated posts. This means that between calls and assignments, officers position themselves in areas with high rates of speeding complaints. Additionally, with traffic grants provided by the state, officers can come in on days off, which creates more resources available to combat speed.

Since the state grants only go so far, Newell is looking to get funding for an additional officer approved in the budget for the fiscal year 2025.

This request has been sent for review by the Select Board, and staffing recomendations are expected to be provided during a special town meeting this fall.

Scott, while not opposed to this addition, believes there should be supplementary strategies employed, such as “simply placing an empty cruiser in high-traffic areas” in order to aid drivers in recognizing their speed.

Moreover, some residents suggest adopting technology-based solutions like speed cameras, which they say have proven effective in other municipalities. These cameras automatically ticket speeding vehicles, ensuring constant enforcement without requiring a physical police presence. Currently, DPW has various speed-monitoring boards across town, but Newell worries they can “turn speeding into a game”.

(photo by Maggie Fitzgerald)

Updated (6/26/24 5:30 pm): Editor”s Note: Chief Newell posted a comment below with more information about how the dept is trying to address speeding (and their challenges), plus what concerned residents can do.

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John Kendall
29 days ago

Every should be concerned about speeding. I see it all the time. Pick a street! I hate trying to pull out of my son’s driveway on Breakneck Hill. Cars are flying by! Southville Road near the Westborough line. Another great spot, usually late afternoon. It needs to stop!

Ryan Newell
28 days ago

Currently, Massachusetts does not allow automatic ticket cameras to be used throughout the State. There is a Bill sitting in the House that aims to change this (https://malegislature.gov/Bills/193/H3393), but as of 6/6/24 there has been no further activity. 

We would like our residents to know that our officers are working hard every day; responding to calls for service while tackling the speeding concerns taking place throughout town. From January 1st of this year through today’s date, the men and women of SPD have:
Issued 1,890 motor vehicle citations
Made 63 motor vehicle-related arrests
Issued 118 Criminal Applications (related to motor vehicle offenses)
Made 30 OUI (Operating Under the Influence) Arrests
Conducted over 2,300 Radar Posts

Currently, like many other Police Departments throughout the country, we are facing a staffing shortage at the Police Department. We have two officers in the Field Training program; two officers heading into the Police Academy (graduating in December of this year); and two currently open positions (with two candidates in the background phase of the hiring process). We are a department of 21 sworn officers (including the Chief and Lieutenant). Even with these shortages, our officers are working tirelessly to serve and protect our community.

We encourage anyone with speeding complaints to please contact the police department directly and ask that your road be added to the Traffic Enforcement Radar Request Board. The TERR Board will list the streets requested for extra police enforcement; the times that the violations are frequently occurring; and the specific driving behavior that has been observed by our residents. If you do not mind your driveway being used as a place for our cruisers to park- please let us know! Officers check this board before heading out for their patrols and will set up radar posts in order to stop violators. We were recently added to the Southborough Care & Share Facebook Private Group, where (unbeknownst to us) residents have been sharing their speeding concerns and locations throughout town. Since the group is a private Facebook group, we were not being notified when we were “tagged” in a complaint a commenter wanted us to be aware of. Hopefully this will be one more change that will help in providing better service to our town residents.

*A suggestion in the article discusses leaving an empty cruiser on a road identified by having a high number of speeders. Years ago, we had a mobile traffic radar trailer that we had placed in the Richards Road area- only to have a juvenile resident take an axe to it (destroying the radar trailer). I do not wish to take that chance with one of our $80k police cruisers.

Additionally, we are hoping that the staffing study approved through Town Meeting will address the necessary amount of patrol officers we would need to handle the speeding concerns of the public. We are listening to your concerns and we are (as evidenced by our enforcement numbers and considering our current staffing level) continuing to work tirelessly to meet the law enforcement expectations of our residents.

Kelly Roney
24 days ago

I see drivers doing 40 or more (my estimate) through downtown’s 20 mph zone all the time. Remember when Bolton had the reputation that any speeder there, especially on 117, would be stopped? Can we aspire to some of that?

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