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Durham speed humps slow traffic -- maybe a little too well

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Firefighters say speed humps work too well -- slowing response time for emergencies.

Standing in his front yard, Mike Curry pointed to a car zipping over a speed hump on Berini Drive.

"Look at this vehicle here; that's a good example," he said. "If the speed hump wasn't there, he'll probably do 45 miles per hour."

Curry raised his children along this stretch of road in Durham where the posted speed limit of 25, with the help of four consecutive speed humps, keeps drivers moving slower, even the ones we rely on to reach us in a hurry.

"A fire can double in 60 seconds so we want to get there as quickly as possible," said Chris Iannuzzi, Durham Fire Department Deputy Chief.



Evaluating speed humps is nothing new for Iannuzzi. The city calls on the fire department to weigh in anytime there's a request. But since he started work in January for an Executive Fire Officer Program research project, Iannuzzi's found with more than 700 speed humps scattered across Durham, each one of those encountered tacks on 10 seconds to firefighters' and EMS response time.

"If you're not breathing -- the person who's not breathing -- it makes a big difference to," he said. "It worries me. It worries other firefighters."

He's sounding the alarm but said more research is needed. Right now, Iannuzzi doesn't have the data to show any single case of death or property damage directly tied to delays over speed humps such as the ones in front of Curry's house.

"It's the safety part of our children," Curry said in defense of the speed humps. "But, at the same time, we want the EMS to be able to get in and out, fire trucks. How do you fix it? What's the solution to it?"

With objectivity the goal and safety at the top of the mind, Iannuzzi said those are the questions he's working to answer.

Iannuzzi said the fire department hasn't made any recommendations yet to remove speed humps. He's hoping to continue collecting data and reevaluate within a year.

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