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Drivers Beware: New Speed Limits on Sweetwater Road

A Column by the Editor
web posted September 21, 2012

COLUMN – After the speed limit was lowered on Sweetwater Road from 55 mph to 50 mph back in 2005, and still lower from just south of Randall Road to 45 mph to the intersection of Highway 25, new signs have been placed lowering it even more of the road with reduced speeds, and without warning.

It is true that Edgefield County Administrator Lynn Strom announced at the September County Council meeting that the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) had stated that a review of the roadway was undertaken and the lower speed limits would be put into place in the near future.

County Councilman Rodney Ashcraft stated that was fine but somebody needed to inform the drivers.

The new signs are in place, and it just seems a little suspicious where the new 45 mph zone is located. It is just after you pass Shaw Estates southbound and you are already coming down a hill. When the last change in speed limits went into effect, a warning sign was placed well in advance to the newly changed limit just north of Briggs Road (those that went from 55 to 45 - no other warnings were placed in the 55 to 50 areas).

Not so this time.

When the last change went into effect, many State Troopers I spoke with said it was not to increase the number of tickets written to speeders and that they allow a 4 to 5 mph leeway before stopping someone from speeding. That's fair, nobody; even using cruise control on the hilly and curvy road, could maintain a static 50 mph speed.

However, to place a new speed limit sign dropping the speed from 50 to 45 well down a steep downward slope just seems to be setting up what could be considered a speed trap. Why put the sign on the down slope to start with? That's a steep hill; people are looking at oncoming traffic, not the signs that have been in place since 2005.

I drove that section or road several times today with differing circumstances, driving normal, on cruise control, and even placing my vehicle in neutral. In each case, with no warning, a driver would be subjected to a 2 point or 4 point violation because they were not forewarned that the speed limit a quarter of the way down the hill had been changed. 

I'm not against the new speed limit in the section of steep hills and curves, but the least the SCDOT could do is put up a warning sign the limit is being reduced in advance. I would also suggest that the speed limit sign be placed at the top of the hill, not on the hill itself.

The real question is will the Highway Patrol actually patrol the road to curtail the constant complaints of speeding fuel trucks that harass drivers actually doing the previous speed limits in the section identified, or the rest of the road for that matter, or just the every day driver?

Be warned, once you pass Shaw Estates southbound - get on your brakes - but not so fast that the speeding driver behind you may just run up on your bumper and give you a hand signal saying you are #1.

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