Residents Want To Put The Brakes On City Drivers

Some were so concerned for their safety, they contacted Harry Hairston and the NBC10 Investigators.

The Investigators recently caught one city vehicle going more than 20 mph over the 35-mph speed limit on Martin Luther King Drive.

"Actually, I was one of the cars being blown away on that drive," said Josh Levittis, of Spring Garden.
Levittis said city vehicles have raced past him on the road more than once. He said he wants city administrators to put the brakes on this problem.

"More surveillance, or something like that, maybe that's an answer," he said.

In response to the complaints, the Investigators pulled out their speed gun, calibrated it and targeted city vehicles on Martin Luther King Drive during rush hour.

In just over an hour, more than a dozen marked city vehicles blew by the Investigators' cameras traveling over the speed limit.

Christopher Collier said he's a former city worker. He said he never broke the law in a city vehicle, and that driving a city vehicle isn't something to be taken lightly.

"There are certain responsibilities that come with that, and No. 1 is safety," Collier said.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officials said speeding is more dangerous than most people may think.

"It's the single biggest behavioral factor in highway fatalities, more than (drunken driving)," said Jenny Robinson of PennDOT.

PennDOT also said that when you speed, you challenge other drivers.

"When you have someone driving at a much higher rate of speed, it's unpredictable for the other drivers, and they may not be able to react in time," Robinson said.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz said the disregard exhibited by the speeding drivers often results in accidents and lawsuits against the city.

"They should be setting a positive example for motorists," Butkovitz said.

According to city records, there were 62 city vehicles in accidents with payouts totaling $1.8 million in 2006 -- excluding the police and fire departments.

In 2007, the number was 39 accidents costing taxpayers $2.1 million. So far this year, 57 accidents have forced the city to pay out $4.3 million.

After numerous calls to Mayor Michael Nutter's office, officials issued a statement to the Investigators, saying "the city's number one focus is public safety. And they will review polices governing the improper use of all city vehicles and discipline individuals as needed."

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