Garland used to be well-known as a speed trap. It may well be returning to that status.
Sampson County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Hardison, assigned to enforcement for the town, recently received his radar operator certification. He and Sgt. Jay Parsons said speeds, notably the 25 zone coming through the town on U.S. 701, will be enforced.
“There will be some citations written,” said Hardison.
Both said they have been tracking speeds in the town and while the majority of motorists are in compliance, there are some that exceed the limit.
“We have been monitoring some of the speeds and the downtown speed (in the 25 posted limit),” said Parsons. “Most people, on average, seem to be in compliance. Once in a while you’ll get one coming in there about 5 or 6 miles an hour over. That’s really not that much. You could write tickets all day long for 30 miles per hour. Anything in excess of that is what concerns me.”
Parsons conceded that for pedestrians standing on the street corner, the traffic also seems to be traveling a lot quicker than what it is. He said vehicle speeds have been monitored extensively in recent weeks, and that he would be picking and choosing different times to gauge the speeds.
Most of the large trucks riding through are being driven by people familiar with Garland. Others are not, and will come through at excessive speeds, Parsons said.
“I’ve watched the traffic, and I’ve watched people going across the street from the pizza place,” said Parsons. “You can always have an incident and the pedestrians need to be aware of traffic also, but we’ll do what it takes on our part to make sure it’s safe.”
Hardison said he has received complaints from Garland residents about high rates of speed, especially with big trucks passing through.
“I’ve had several occasions where I’ve had people mentioned to me that these 18-wheelers are flying through,” said Hardison. “I was actually sitting under radar the other day (prior to getting certified), and of the 10 to 12 trucks coming through during that time frame, there were just two or three over the 25 (limit).”
Sometimes it can appear that the trucks, being much larger and carrying a whole lot more weight, are traveling at higher rates of speed. Hardison said if they are, tickets will be handed out.
“A large truck at 24 to 25 miles per hour, it really seems like they’re running 35 to 40 miles per hour. If they are running that, we will definitely give you a citation if I’m on duty. I’m going to write some tickets through the 25 zone, because that is a very dangerous area. I’m not going to be very lenient at all in that area.”
Hardison said he has previously given “tongue-lashings” to some of the big-truck operators and, the next time he sees them, he notices lower rates of speeds coming through town. There are exceptions, he said, noting that verbal warnings will be giving way to citations.
“We are going to start cracking down,” said Hardison.
Garland mayor Winifred Murphy asked about speed trailers, echoing an inquiry she made in a previous meeting.
“It’s very possible that we can get one of those machines through the Governor’s Highway Safety (Program),” Parsons said. “I know that’s how Roseboro obtained theirs.”
That unit in Roseboro was not mounted on a trailer, so a trailer was built locally for that equipment to be placed, said Parsons. He said he would also inquire about similar equipment that is used in Clinton.
“We certainly understand 5 or 6 miles (over), because if I’m going to Clinton I’m hoping I won’t be stopped if I’m going 60,” said Murphy. “In Garland, our concern is the safety issue. Whenever you’re pulling out from Family Dollar or the caution light, those trucks just zoom on through. I think once they see that you’re stopping them or talking to them or giving them a warning or ticket, they will slow down.”
Parsons said it would be at the deputy’s discretion as to whether tickets would be issued for 5 or 6 miles per hour over the limit, and possible dangers, pedestrian volume and the flow of traffic would also be taken into account. Traffic will be monitored, and Hardison called on the public to notify local officers about speeders.
Hardison, like Parsons, said he would be mixing up the times he does speed enforcement. The majority of motorists will get in a routine where they know deputies will not be on duty and they can travel through the town quicker. Hardison said he was going to “try to take a little bit of that away” by changing time around.
Murphy said the efforts were appreciated — and needed.
“At one time, people knew not to speed through Garland,” said Murphy. “I think we need to get back to that, just for safety, because we only have that caution light and I imagine that it will get much, much busier over the next few months. We want people to be able to cross the street without any accidents.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.