Washington’s Police Department (WPD) may have found a technological cure for lead feet as various “speed-control devices” are making their way through the city.
The portable, solar-powered devices, which have been mounted in various sites in Washington recently, are placed directly under speed limit signs and provide a display to oncoming traffic that alerts the driver to the speed the vehicle is travelling.
“The goal is to make people aware of their speed and have people self-regulate their speed,” said Washington Police Chief Todd Church. Awareness and self-regulation are components of Phase I; Phase II will be issuance of citations.
According to the police chief, the devices are WiFi enabled and record data relative to traffic patterns, volume and speed. That information will be used to station officers in areas where speeding occurs regularly so that traffic citations can be issued in an attempt to improve public safety.
“We have a lot of people who walk, ride bikes and jog in the city, and drivers who exceed the speed limit are putting people at risk,” commented Chief Church.
Currently, WPD has two portable speed-control devices and has plans to procure two more portable devices in early 2020 and also buy a permanent one to be situated on Edwardsport Road. No General Fund monies are used to procure the devices, which cost approximately $3.5 each. Funding is provided from the Equitable Sharing program, which is part of a federal program that allows municipalities to benefit from drug-seizure money.
How many additional devices to be procured will depend upon their effectiveness.
“We are hoping the speed-control devices will increase drivers’ awareness, and they will react by slowing and abiding the speed limit,” Church said.
The speed-control devices are the result of an ongoing measure to regulate speed with a limited police force. WPD, in cooperation with the Daviess County Sheriff’s Department, has used the county’s speed-control devices. While the shared-time devices registered some success, the county’s devices have limitations relative to portability.
Portability is a key factor for providing coverage within the city’s jurisdiction as the chief wants to ensure safety throughout the city.
“Public safety is the driver for this effort,” Church said, adding, “and the department is hoping the driving public reacts to the devices by becoming more vigilant relative to speed and conditions.”
Public input is sought for the effort. The police chief reported the initial test sites were results of residents’ complaints of speeders in their neighborhood.
“Input we want would come from those who registered complaints as we would like for those folks to follow up with us to see whether or not the devices have had any effect,” Church said.
Residents who would like to register a complaint relative to speeding vehicles are asked to contact WPD by telephone at 254-4410.