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What does it take to change a speed limit in Pennsylvania? | FOX43 Finds Out

One Franklin County woman is on a mission to lower the speed limit where she lives, but has discovered it's not an easy process.

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. — Plenty of people think drivers go too fast through their neighborhoods, but one Franklin County woman thinks speed has contributed to dozens of crashes where she lives.

Now she's on a mission to change that. 

FOX43 Finds Out what it takes to change a speed limit in Pennsylvania.

Virgina Auman has lived on Molly Pitcher Highway in Southampton Township for 21 years. "A lot has changed since I've moved in. A lot more business has come, more factories, the population has grown," she explained.

In that time, she says she's seen dozens of crashes just within eyesight of her home and has lost multiple mailboxes. Auman said, "Our fence has been run down. Our telephone pole has been taken out two times within a year period."

When a tractor-trailer drove into a home a few months ago, just a few doors down, Auman had seen enough. She said, "I think a semi driving into someone's house should be the wakeup call for something to be done."

The current speed limit on this portion of Route 11 is 55 mph, which is based on a federal speed limit guideline. Auman wants it lowered to 45.

So she started a petition and contacted Southampton Township and PennDOT. So far though nothing has changed. 

"I don't think someone should have to die in order for something to be done," she told FOX43.

Since it's a state road, FOX43 Finds Out spoke with PennDOT about what it takes to lower a speed limit.

Fritzi Schreffler with PennDOT says that engineering study needs to be requested by the township. She said, "It's not a matter of just saying, 'It's 45, we want it dropped to 25.' It doesn't work that way. There has to be an engineering study."

Southampton Township has not requested that study, yet. Township Supervisor Roger Hall says between April 2022 and the end of March of this year there were seven crashes on this stretch of road and none were speed related. He says there were also seven citations or warnings for speeding handed out by state police.

Even if that engineering study is requested, Schreffler said it's rare that study will show it's a good idea to lower the speed limit.

She said it's typically not the road that's the problem... it's driver behavior, "For example, we had Route 11 in Camp Hill. People had asked to drop it to 25, it's 35 now. When we went out and took at look at it, we actually realized that 45 might been a more realistic speed for that because we go with something called the 85th percentile." That is, give or take 5 mph, what 85% of the motorists are doing in that area."

Aumen says she's going to keep fighting for people to slow down.

This story isn't over yet though. The township supervisor says they will set up a speed trailer and work with state police to see if people are driving too fast. 

 At this point, they're not saying no to the potential of lowing the speed limit just yet, they just want more data.

If you have a story you want Jackie De Tore to look into, FOX43 wants to find out. Send her a message on Facebook or send an email to FOX43FindsOut@FOX43.com.

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