Man Murdered Over Speed Hump — Could It Happen Here?

by ARLnow.com September 14, 2010 at 2:48 pm 3,550 42 Comments

Police in Fairfax County tell the Washington Post that a man was murdered over the weekend because of his advocacy of speed humps. Police say that Stephen Carr and David Patton had argued before about Carr’s campaign to build a speed hump on the street in front of his Burke home. Then, on Sunday, investigators say an enraged Patton tied up Carr and Carr’s girlfriend, then shot him in the head.

Of course, such extreme acts of violence over neighborhood disagreements are rare. But in speed hump-filled Arlington, it’s easy to be left with the unsettling feeling that such an act of madness is not completely outside the realm of possibility.

Over the past few years, a civil war of sorts has been waged over the mounds of asphalt that force drivers to slow down lest they damage their vehicles. A 2006 article described one such situation in North Arlington as a “pitched battle” and “class warfare at its worst.” A 2008 article, also about Arlington, called speed humps “the ultimate suburban battleground,” pitting “neighbor against neighbor and, more often, resident against motorist.”

So we ask: What’s the angriest you or someone you know has gotten over speed humps? (Or other “traffic calming” measures.)

  • Greg

    Never bothered me any. I guess I’m just not that important that I need to be in that much of a rush.

    I did use the word “that” three times in my last sentence.

  • shirley

    the process that our neighborhood had to go thru for traffic calming was horrible. neighbors threatened each other. many made out right lies to the County, and at the County Board hearing.
    it was a horrible experience for our community to go thru when you would think safety would be a pirority of the county.
    the process is full of political hacks and wanna-be Senators who get off on the power that they seem to think they have — it is a most unrewarding experince.

    • fatkidspecial

      Surely, you can’t be serious.

      • MB

        I bet she is. And don’t call her Surely.

        • Zack


      • shirley

        very funny folks.
        Yes, I am serious. Our traffic calming project has been in for years and people still snarl at one another. it is terrible. really divided the neighborhood.
        if you have a specific issue you doubt, let me know, i’ll elaborate.

  • BoredHouseWife

    Exactly, Greg, you said it. I wonder what mental issue they will claim he had. No one in their right mind would let that get to them.

  • Now native

    The comments at the WashPost on this story are just sad. Many basically say: “See adding a speed bump killed someone, thus all speed bumps should be banned.”

  • JamesE

    I remember when speed bumps were actual small bumps and not these jarring obstructions where I have to come to a near stop in order to not bottom out and destroy my suspension since I don’t drive a SUV, but the most I do at that is curse out loud.

    • Deb

      In Arlington? I can easily drive over the speed humps around here at 25 mph (i.e., the speed limit) with no problems. And I drive a Prius, which does not have a high clearance at all.

      • shirley

        try 16th street between harrison and greenbrier.

        • ReserveHill

          Try any of the speed humps in Lyon Village.

  • CadeTyler

    I was once mildly peeved by a sleeping policeman.


    I don’t get angry at all. I understand their purpose but it is annoying when it SEEMS as if you’re stopping for a hump more than twice in the same block.

  • Barton St. Speedway

    I was delighted with the news a neighbor told me in the days after a hump was installed on my street. A chronic speeder from the next block nailed it at his usual excessive velocity. He hit it so hard that his front bumper cover came clean off. He stopped, put it in his car, and sped off without acknowledging my neighbor hollering at him that he got what he deserved. As long as there is a good due process that respects all parties and necessary criteria then reasonable bumps should be allowed.

  • Alexis

    As both a driver and cyclist in Arlington, I prefer the traffic circles to calm speeding, than the speed bumps. It adds greenery to our streets and it’s easier for cyclists to ride through our neighborhoods.

    • Greg

      I love circles and roundabouts! It’s one of my favoritest things about driving over in Europe.

      • MB

        Unfortunately our roundabouts leave much to be desired. I think they should either be true roundabouts (that is, yield to traffic in circle, no stop signs), or four way stops. As it is (with two way stops), you take a real chance poking your nose into an intersection blindly (even after stopping) in a number of the roundabouts in my neighborhood.

        • ReserveHill

          And some have been installed in intersections too small to accommodate them.

  • cmg

    I think the speed humps in Arlington are a getting excessive. I’m sure the snow plow drivers, bus drivers, and emergency vehicle drivers just LOVE them…. The humps in our neighborhood were nearly destroyed by the plows this past winter and they’re still missing big chunks out of them. The fact is, the humps that have grooves in the middle for emergency vehicles make many drivers drive in the middle of the street go to through them! Somebody in the city planning department needs to calm down with the humps, big time.

    An extra tidbit- They’re bad for the environment! the acceleration period after a speed hump is when we get the worst gas milage. Stop, go, stop, go, stop, go–At least on N. Highland street between Clarendon and Lyon Village.

    • Mark H.

      CMG – your post is exactly why speed bumps are needed. Why are you driving through Lyon Park to get to Clarendon? Highland Street is literally 3 or 4 blocks from Washington Blvd. Take 7th over to the light and then drive as quickly as you would like, with out stopping and starting.

      • charlie

        Arlington works because there are many routes to get places.
        if all cars were pushed to Washington Blvd., then Washington Blvd would need to be widened to accommodate the cars — and ruined like Glebe Road between Carline Springs And I-66.
        Would Lyon Park support widening Wash Blvd or removing the parking during rush hour? no, of course not.
        But when Wash Blvd gets backe dup, first thing people will do is seek alternate routes. pick your poison.

      • MrCar

        I drive through the single family neighborhoods because it’s more scenic and relaxing. Those speed cushion things don’t really bother me or my car. I drive speed limit or below though, so maybe that’s why.

  • Ambulance Driver

    I drive emergency vehicles in Arligton, and I can say that speed humps are a pain. None of them are designed the same. The space between the sections is made so that an emergency vehicle can get through with out have to jar patients or first responders. But find me more than two in Arlington that are the same…its rediculous

  • fatkidspecial

    I thought it was great when speed bumps first started appearing on some of the busiest neighborhood streets. Something needed to be done. Unfortunately it has gone way overboard and the county now won’t stop until every street, sidewalk, wheel chair ramp has been sufficiently speed bumped…

    The county has too much money and doesn’t know what to do with it.

    Pretty ridiculous for someone to get in a physical confrontation, much less murder, over a speed bump tho. I guess it makes sense when people are shooting each other over cold eggs, mcnuggets and tennis shoes.

  • Dee

    The speed bumps did not kill Mr. Carr, his armed neighbor did. Clearly, if it wasn’t the speed bumps that triggered him, something else would have done it. Let’s focus on the problem and report some facts, like whether this man purchased his gun legally, where it was purchased, and whether he had a prior criminal history.

  • ReserveHill

    …and don’t even get me started on the “bumps” at the end of curbs on corners! Someone’s relative must have an asphalt and concrete company. Someone once told me that each one of those “bumps” costs thousands of dollars. Certainly there is something better for us to spend tax dollars on?

    • Archan

      Actually, the idea behind the bumps is so that the blind and vision impaired know where the edge of the curb is and where they go into the road. With curb cuts (i.e. those slopes at each corner), it’s not always clear.

  • George

    Well, I lived in Arlington for 21 years. Speed bumps have started becoming a problem lately so I moved to Greece. Well, OK there were other reasons, job related, but I hated the speed bumps, and I don’t even speed on neighborhood streets. I do my fair share of speeding on the highway, but not on side streets.

    In any case, the law in Greece is simple. Municipalities are allowed to build speed bumps only AFTER notifying the department of transportation, and IF and ONLY IF the road has less than 8 vehicles per hour going through the street, (after doing a traffic study) which means it qualifies as a neighborhood street and not a thoroughfare. Only exception, speed bumps are allowed right before and after entrances to schools regardless of traffic count.

    My view is that local government can build them to protect the residents of the street, but not at the expense of thousands of commuters, that in most cases were using the street before houses were built there. When I bought my house in Arlington, I KNEW the street was being used by commuters, having used it myself before. Therefore I had NO RIGHT to demand a speed bump after I moved there. I feel the people asking for the bumps are hypocrites, especially if they bought their homes in the last ten years.

    Besides, most people don’t want them to slow down speeders, but in order to discourage people from using “their” street to go to work.

    • cmg

      A man in my neighborhood fought for speed humps complaining that there were too many cars and that they went too fast on his street… So why did he buy his house on a busy road!?!?

    • Frog

      Unless you are talking about the major, historic arterial roads like Lee Highway, Wilson or Washington Boulevards, Columbia Pike, etc (which as arterials wouldn’t qualify for speed bumps anyway), most County streets were built simultaneously with the subdivisions. You’ll see what I mean on old maps of the County. The street system only started to connect and fill in as developers built new housing tracts. You think getting around is tough now, in the 1950s there were multiple discontinuous segments of newer roads like George Mason or Walter Reed Drives because development hadn’t “filled in” the gaps. Even today there is a disconnected segment of George Mason Drive.

    • not George

      We always have rights to complain against excessive and dangerous speeding in the good ‘ole USA. My neighborhood street has become a cut through for people living in McLean to speed their way to get to I-66. They don’t live here, they don’t care that dozens of children live on my street, they don’t care that the speed limit is 25mph, they want to drive at 50mph on my street. If we want to slow them down, because they illegally speed on my street, then I have that right. Now, if only 70% of my neighbors would agree. Come on people, that is what it takes to get the speed bumps, 70%. Why should a minority make the call. I think the majority should rule here.

  • JimPB

    Speed limits (and measures to obtain compliance with them) should be based first on an evidence-based relation to public safety and secondly on national policy considerations, e.g., mileage/gallon is usually higher at slower speeds, thereby reducing the need to buy oil overseas from unsavory governments.

    I know a residential streets with several dozen young kids who would, if it was safe, be playing out and about. Measures to curtail pass through drivers and limit the speed of vehicles seem likely to contribute meaningful to public safety — and incidentally, to a welcome and good sense of community for the children and their families.

    I also know of residential streets that were devoid of persons out and about on foot before and after the installation of speed bumps. Unless there is a clear and strong evidence-based relation of the speed bumps to the safety of others, remove the speed bumps.

  • Wa$te

    **FYI, All- Here in Arlington, they are officially known as “Zimmerhumps” (in honor of their biggest & longest serving patron!)

  • Joe

    This is really about lazy police. The word is out in Arlington that the police don’t “do” traffic enforcement (just as Animal Welfare doesn’t “do” leash law enforcement). Certainly not in pockets of North Arlington where you never know which VIP you’re going to pull over by mistake.

    So the best bet, then, is to let technology do the job for you. Let the humps, and the traffic cameras, slow down the cars. The K Street lobbyist might threaten your money, but he doesn’t have a SPECIFIC police officer from which to extract a pound of flesh. So speed goes down and police get to cut back on their work. Everybody’s happy.

    • ReserveHill

      I just think it’s all part of a scheme by the County Board to rid Arlington of cars altogether. If life is made so unpleasant for car drivers, then we’ll all convert to taking buses, riding our bikes, walking — or just staying home.

    • Jon

      I agree 100%. Arlington would rather provide physical barriers for our protection than enforce the traffic laws. We have more cops per square mile (~14, 366 cops/26 sq. miles) than anywhere I can think of, yet they seem to have no real interest in enforcing traffic laws. We see them all over, but do we ever really see them doing anything but setting revenue producing speed traps? And even those are so predictable, that locals rarely get caught. I see cops speeding all over (without lights and sirens) and rarely using indicators. How can we expect our citizenry to abide by the laws, if the police themselves consider them optional?

  • Lived in Arlington for 20 years and have always marveled at the Counties efforts to push major traffic onto major roads and off of the residential, children at play, family living roads. The fact is drivers consistently and dangerously exceed the speed limits. On my street, without speed bumps, with limited visibility, lots of children, and many people walking the streets, people regularly excessively exceed the speed limit. I fully support the counties traffic calming efforts. Yes they are annoying. But contrasting “annoyance” with safe streets and deterring pedestrian fatalities, it is a good thing.

    • Mark H.

      Finally – a voice of reason.

  • William

    Things are not always black and white and this pretty much sums that up…

    This has been a highly detailed story granted the available information at hand, but there really are, two sides to every story.

    My family and I have known Carr for many years now. I’ll never say that he deserved what happened, but I’m far from surprised.

    In the years I’ve known Carr, he was notorious for walking along Fieldmaster and Conservation Drive looking for cars with dead-tags or dead inspection stickers; cars which he could call in to the FCPD.

    He was notorious (I bore witness several times) for being a frequent restaurant goer who would mentally and emotionally break down nice servers merely trying to do their job – only for the sake of a free meal.

    As far as the speed hump was concerned, the construction of it was far from being about cars speeding through/children. Prior to it even being built it was constructed to prevent his own car from being T-boned. As usual, a selfish interest.

    As a reflection of character, Carr was not the guy to inflict physical pain on anyone; although he was more than capable. Rather than leading himself into potential law issues, he resorted to mental and emotional affliction. I still haven’t decided which is worse in this case.

    My mother and sister, during a time of financial crisis, had the “privilege” of being two of his tenants. During their renting period he was emotionally violent and extremely fascist.

    In all of my experiences with Carr, he used the power of fear to achieve what he wanted.

    I’m not denying that Patton was a complete nut-case. That fact is completely obvious. I suppose this is what happens when two wrongs come into contact with one another. To quote my mother, “live by the sword, and die by the sword.”

    I have, myself, prayed for Carr’s soul, as well as those around him that did indeed love him. I did, however, find it necessary to put some false beliefs about Carr to rest.

  • big al

    i have a cop who lives on my street who races down the street at a fast speed i complained to the sheriffs office here. now hes pissed and goes slow past my house then guns his engine little does he know a speed bump is getting put in in the future it so happens they are going to put it in front of his house cause his house is center point of the street. i guess hell really be mad now oh well im laughing about it he knows hes was wrong


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