EDITORIAL: Drop the Speed Limit to 45


July 21, 2014

How many more people have to die, how many more vehicles must be destroyed, how many more close calls must there be before VDOT awakes to the deadly danger of Route 13 north and south of the Cape Charles traffic light? If Route 13 is Virginia’s most dangerous highway, we will nominate the Cape Charles/Cheriton area as the most dangerous patch of it.

The traffic light itself is not the problem so much as the multiple turnoffs mostly south of the light. Two of our neighbors had their cars totaled in the past few years — one trying to cross the highway to get to the Corner Mart, the other a victim of someone pulling out from McDonald’s directly in front of her.

Last week we saw something new and scary: a full-size charter bus leaving McDonald’s was trying to turn left onto Route 13. Judging by the line of cars behind the bus, the driver had to wait a long time for a break in the traffic.

Why does the speed limit drop to 45 mph on the bypass around Exmore but not in the Cape Charles/Cheriton area? The danger here is arguably worse than in Exmore (which funds their entire Police budget from speeding tickets).

Our most recent heart-stopper (and the inspiration for this editorial) came from waiting in the left-hand lane on 13 to turn onto Stone Road. An 18-wheeler roared past at full speed only a few feet away, violently shaking our stopped van in the jet stream. We were literally “sitting ducks.” And as everyone knows, a 55 mph limit means it is your God-given right (and duty) to drive 60 — and this trucker was doing his duty.

At least we were encased in a two-ton van; pity the pedestrian who tries to navigate that death-trap. Earl Wayne Spady was hit by a truck last month while trying to cross Route 13 on foot at night. May he rest in peace.


Across the state line in Maryland, Route 13 has warning signs above the road in advance of traffic lights. The signs flash to tell you if the light will be red by the time you get to it so you know to slow down. It the signs are not flashing, you can maintain speed approaching the intersection. VDOT seems unaware of such signs.

The biggest problem is that the Food Lion shopping center has no service road connecting it to South Bayside Road, where the traffic light is.  County Supervisor Granville Hogg says he has appealed to VDOT for years but to no avail. Presumably the deal breaker is the railroad track, which would cross the service road and require cross arms and lights, all for the one or two trains a week (month?) using that spur.

With no service road, it is inexcusable for VDOT not to recognize the imperative of reduced speed. At the very, very least, they could erect yellow diamond signs with 45 mph limits.

With the death of Earl Wayne Spady, maybe someone at VDOT would listen to a request from the county or Cape Charles or Cheriton — or all three. VDOT was quick to respond when someone complained about political signs on the state right-of-way.

Or is “full speed ahead” more important to our state officials?



3 Responses to “

EDITORIAL: Drop the Speed Limit to 45”

  1. Anthony Sacco on July 21st, 2014 12:47 am

    The drivers that use the left lanes unnecessary should be given heavy fines. It is bad enough there is heavy traffic in the summer and few traffic lights, but people that live here and try to get on 13 find it difficult to cross over to go either North or South when a driver is using the left lanes just because he likes to. It would help the finances of the local Sherriff Dept. and make life a little bit easier for us old folks.

  2. Steve Downs on July 21st, 2014 11:45 am

    In the 10 years I have lived in the area I have never had a problem driving on 13. People just need to pay attention to what is going on around them and not do stupid things like pulling out in front of another vehicle when it isn’t safe to do so. Lowering the speed limit to 45 won’t make a difference. It will just slow things down and most people will just ignore the speed limit anyway. And Tony, I am an “old folk” and I get by just fine!

  3. Sgt. Jockamo Rasputin USMC Retired on July 26th, 2014 12:16 pm

    I’ve been driving Route 13 for over 50 years with no problems other than the knucklehead left hand lane hangers. The current speed limit is just fine. The writer of this editorial seems to be a bit out of touch with reality. An 18-wheeler going full speed would be going close to 90 mph. I know — I drove one for 22 years prior to driving a cop car for 15 years. A service road at Food Lion IS however a very good idea.