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West Manheim’s electronic speed-alert sign that was purchased through a donation from a local community group has made a dent in the number of speeders and traffic accidents wherever it is used, said township Chief of Police Tim Hippensteel.

The sign, which was put into service earlier this year, has consistently made each area where is was displayed safer for everyone, Hippensteel added.

“The speed sign has been, quite frankly, a blessing,” Hippensteel said.

In October 2012, the Hanover Eagles agreed to donate up to $8,000 for the purchase of electronic speed alert, radar and message board, with the final purchase being made from All Traffic Solutions for $7,855, Hippensteel said at the time of purchase.

The speed check equipment includes an 18-inch weather-proof screen which can be used to show the speed of passing vehicles or be changed to lettering so that warnings or other messages can be displayed. The change from speed sign to a message sign can be done in just a few minutes when needed, Hippensteel said.

While many different areas of the township have had the speed-monitoring device in place successfully slowing traffic during the last several months, said Hippensteel, one especially high traffic volume township road really benefited from its placement there.

“On Fairview Drive it’s been incredibly effective in slowing traffic on the S-curve,” Hippensteel said. “We have had no crashes there this year at all, while there were five there last year, and six the year before – in the same time frame.”

The two-mile long road is posted at 30 mph, said Hippensteel, but until the electronic speed sign was put into place much of the traffic zoomed along at much higher speeds. While the sign was in position, 84 percent of the vehicles that encountered the sign slowed down, said Hippensteel, and even after the sign was moved to another location a large percentage of traffic continued to be closer to the speed limit.

The supervisors said that they also are grateful for the sign that is helping make township roads safer.

“I really think it’s great that they (Hanover Eagles) donated it to us,” said board chairman Harold Hartlaub. “This is something that we really needed.”

While the sign has been primarily used to slow speeders and as a message board several times, it can also be put in a “covert mode,” said Hippensteel, so the police can get computer printouts of all vehicle speeds over specific periods of time making it a valuable tool for traffic studies.

The sign also includes a camera which can take a photo that can be relayed immediately to the central police computer. That camera can be used to take pictures of speeders – or to even keep the camera itself from being stolen, said Hippensteel when originally explaining the sign last October.

“If someone tries to steal the camera it takes their picture and sends it right to the police department,” said Hippensteel. The camera also includes a live GPS system which would allow it to be located if it would be taken despite the anti-theft feature, said Hippensteel.

The sign is easy to move and set up so it will continue to be well used to reduce speeding and make many roads throughout the township safer for everyone, said Hippensteel.

“We are going to keep moving it around,” Hippensteel said. “Everywhere we put it, traffic slows down.”

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