The speed sign being employed in Tillsonburg is very much operating on a two-way 'street.'
Most visible to motorists is a digital display of their speed, which said Tillsonburg Police Services Board Chair Larry Scanlon during a report to open council last Monday evening, has at the very least a calming effect. When its lights come on, he believes motorists’ feet hit the brakes and eyes check the speed.
“At least I do,” he laughed.
What most may not be aware of is the fact the sign is also recording and collecting time-based data from passing vehicles, including numbers and individual speeds.
“This is a great piece of equipment we are going to use,” said Oxford OPP Inspector Tim Clark.
The recording function is also available with the screen black and the unit visually dormant said Scanlan, in effect, an operational stealth mode.
Recorded results are available in chart form, providing identifiable traffic patterns which could provide a blueprint for effective and enhanced enforcement operations.
Mayor John Lessif raised that very point, inquiring if targeted enforcement has resulted “as a result of this data?”
Scanlan replied in the negative, indicating effective interpretation of the data is part of the device’s learning curve, part of “making the best use of it.”
To date says Clark, the device hasn’t revealed any dramatic speed zones within Tillsonburg. For example, a recent sampling of 7,000 vehicles along Wilson Ave. did not produce a single instance where an officer would have been likely to issue a speeding ticket, data consistent with alternate placement.
“So far there is really no indication we have a problem with speed where and when the sign is located,” said Scanlan.
Norfolk County is currently using an alternative to the speed sign, a small portable camera to collect data. Scanlan says the TPSB is considering purchasing one or more of those devices.
“This particular sign may find a semi-permanent spot in front of the new school.”
Deputy Mayor Mark Renaud elicited its cost ($4,250) from Scanlan, and declared himself a fan of the device. The town receives complaints about speeding from various locations around the community said Renaud. The speed sign provides quantifiable data to accurately respond to those complaints, or alternatively target additional enforcement.
“It is important to have the data to make an informed decision, and with this sign, we do.”