City Installs "Articial Potholes" To Help Enforce Speed Limits

Fake News written by Martha Throebeck on Friday, December 28, 2007

from the can't-tell-the-difference dept.

ARNOLD, MISSOURI -- Bump, grind, bump, crash. That's the sound motorists in Arnold will be hearing soon along city streets thanks to a new program designed to reduce traffic speeds by installing potholes in strategic locations.

"These aren't your father's speed bumps," said police deputy Gus Toppoh. "Artificial potholes are the most effective way to get people to slow down -- the only thing better is seeing a police car in your rearview mirror."

The potholes, known in engineering circles as "velocity impairment devices", vary in size, depth, and placement. The lack of a pattern keeps drivers guessing -- and away from the gas pedal. During a successful trial conducted last month, average speeds dropped from 58 mph to 7.8 mph along one stretch of Highway 67.

"It might take longer to get where you're going, and you will need to replace your brakes, shocks, and tires more often, but that's a small price to pay for safety," said Toppoh. "We should see a significant decrease in car crashes and pedestrian collisions, saving lives and helping to protect the children."

Pilot projects in other cities across the country, however, haven't been as successful. Tempe, Arizona, is facing a lawsuit after a sinkhole opened along a busy highway last month and swallowed an entire SUV. The opening started as a small pothole, but work crews didn't try to fix it, thinking it was an artificial pothole. The next day it turned into a cavernous sinkhole 22-feet in diameter.

Residents of Breezewood, Pennsylvania, are still in shock after a school bus slid into a large pothole and then lost control and slammed into a Try-N-Save convenience store, injuring 19 first-graders on a field trip. City officials, however, argued that the pothole in question was a "real" one and not an "artificial" one, and that the wreck was purely a coincidence. "Our velocity-impairment potholes are working beautifully," said the mayor.

Despite the problems elsewhere, Arnold city leaders are enthusiastic about their pothole project. "We're leading the way in Missouri for highway safety innovations," said the city engineer.