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Radar trailer aims to curb speeding

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By Elizabeth George

Spring is underway and, for the Bozeman Police Department, that means rolling out a tool to help residents figure out where drivers are speeding in town and where they need to increase patrols to crack down.
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A digital speed limit sign that uses radar to record how fast drivers are going is now available for your street by request.

The Bozeman Police Department is now deploying its Speed Monitoring Awareness Radar Trailer. Nicknamed SMART, it’s a portable unit that shows the speed of vehicles passing by it.

Bozeman Police Department volunteer Ed Kibbey explained the purpose of the SMART.

He said, “The radar trailer is in actuality an education device. It calls attention to the fact that, even if we are doing the speed limit, we really didn’t know whether we were doing the speed limit until we looked at that speedometer.”

He said the trailer serves as a reminder to pay attention to, and follow, traffic laws.

Captain Jim Veltkamp said community members can request the SMART on their street to keep tabs on drivers and see how many are obeying the law.

“We actually compile the data into a spreadsheet and we send it back to the person that requested the trailer so they can see the speeds that are actually occurring in the neighborhood,” said Veltkamp.

While Veltkamp said it’s a great tool for residents and police to see where drivers are speeding around town, we wanted to know how drivers feel about it.

One person said the signage is distracting and unclear.

“Because you’re staring at them instead of the road, and also when I am passing them I can never tell — is it me, is it the car next to me, or is it the car behind me? It’s not very clear as to who the speed is indicating. So that’s kind of confusing, when really you can get the same information from your speedometer,” says Emily Kempe, HAVEN Outreach Coordinator.

Another thinks it’s a good idea. “I think those are good and remind us to slow down or go the speed we’re going. I think it’s an excellent idea,” said Bozeman resident Sarah Williams.

Police also use the data collected by the SMART to decide whether or not to increase patrols in the area. It is not used to look into changing speed limits or adding road signs.

Veltkamp said the department used grant money to buy the SMART.

To request it on your street, you can fill out a form here.

Copyright 2015 by KECI, KCFW, KTVM. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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