by Lori Miles at All Traffic Solutions
Message displays are typically used less by law enforcement than other city departments but that should not be the case. Incorporating messages into speed displays make them more effective and versatile.
Many small police departments share equipment with the town or public works department and this can be an advantage because it often provides law enforcement with access to equipment they might not buy for themselves—equipment like message signs.
More commonly, an employee from public works inquires about a message board because they have a specific need—for example, crowd control during a 5k race. It’s only later that they find out the message board is effective for speed enforcement too.
The real effectiveness comes with combining speed radar displays and message boards. All Traffic Solutions has two speed message displays—an 18” sign that is pole mounted and a 24” sign that is on a trailer. The 18” can do 6 characters on two lines, which gives law enforcement the opportunity to display messages like “slow down,” “too fast,” “road closed,” “ACCT Ahead,” or even an amber alert.
The most recent trend in speed messaging is incorporating it into the statewide campaign is for the month. For example, Massachusetts recently had an anti-texting campaign where it had signs monitor the speeds of cars—if the cars were driving above the speed limit, the message would be to slow down. However, if the driver was below the speed limit, the message said “You text, you drive, you pay” assuming they were driving slow because they were playing with their phone.
Incorporating strobe lights into the signs also adds to the effectiveness. We’ve seen the impact of these lights again and again, but only if utilized properly. For instance, the strobe lights should be set to flash only when a driver is exceeding the speed limit by about 10 mph because if drivers speed by it and sees it flash every time, they will quickly become accustomed to it.
Inevitably, however, the sign will need to be moved to a new area and the old area will be at risk of becoming dangerous again. To prevent that, police departments can use the data the sign collected to persuade city and state engineers to install more permanent solutions on the road, such as lowering the speed limit. That way, the community continues to be safe beyond the time the sign is out there slowing traffic.
What kind of impact have you had with messaging? We’d love to hear from you!