Friday, July 13, 2007

Speed reader signs beset by problems

Edythe Jensen
The Arizona Republic

CHANDLER - Flashing speed reader signs going up all over Chandler are getting drivers' attention, but some inaccurate readings and unpredictable flashing need fixing.

City spokesman Jim Phipps said 23 of the 64 lighted flashing signs have been installed on roads leading to the 16 intersections, including 12 where photo speed enforcement will soon nab violators.

Some of the new signs are failing to show accurate speeds of approaching vehicles or flash at inappropriate times because they need minor adjustments, Phipps said.

Gary O'Dell, spokesman for Information Display Company of Portland, Ore., the devices' manufacturer, said they have to be adjusted to the roadway's speed limit to work properly. "The city didn't tell us where they were going at first," he said.

Lighted numbers should flash the speed of an approaching vehicle only when it is traveling above the limit. And it should stop flashing at 55 miles per hour "to discourage speed contests," O'Dell said. Drivers going the speed limit or slower should see lighted numbers but no flashing.

To do the job right, sensors in the signs also must be aimed correctly, Phipps said. Nearby neon lights or another road sign can throw off the sensors and produce inaccurate readings, O'Dell said.

The minor glitches don't bother Councilman Jeff Weninger, who proposed buying the signs for $295,587 with traffic fine revenues.

"I have confidence we'll get all the bugs worked out," he said. "Our goal is to improve public safety, and they are a goodwill gesture to citizens to show we're not just trying to be punitive."

Weninger said he wanted to warn speeding motorists before they entered intersections equipped with photo radar and speed cameras.

Installation and adjustment of all 64 signs is expected to be done by the end of the summer, Phipps said.

Really kind of makes you wonder how accurate and reliable the radar units that'll be going up in their place and actually mailing tickets to people will be, doesn't it? Well, I for one rest assured in the knowledge that our elected officials will tirelessly police the system and ensure no innocent drivers are erroneously ticketed. (Yeah right)

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