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Sioux City police aim to reduce speeding with radar signs

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A radar feedback sign flashes the speed of a car Thursday as vehicles drive down Pierce Street in Sioux City. Police have 10 radar signs around town to reduce speeding.

SIOUX CITY | An ordinary speed-limit sign might be easy for motorists to ignore, but top that sign with a digital speedometer and drivers are more aware of how fast they’re going.

That’s what Sioux City police hope to achieve with 10 radar feedback signs placed around town that boldly display a motorist’s speed in real time.

There are 10 such signs in Sioux City. They’re placed on streets based on several factors, including speed-study data, traffic volume and accident rates, said Sgt. Todd Sassman of the Sioux City Police Department.

For example, a radar feedback sign along the westbound lane of Gordon Drive is in place where the viaduct ends near Floyd Boulevard. Sassman said the speed limit drops to 25 mph rather abruptly at that spot.

“We put them in places like that because we know the traffic is coming off that viaduct fast. It’s a way to get some people slowed down,” Sassman said.

Public feedback also plays a part in determining the placement of digital speed signs. One sign,in the 700 block of Pierce Street, was placed there after complaints sparked a study, said Sassman.

That study showed that there were several rear-end accidents a little farther downtown on Pierce, said Sassman.

“(The sign was placed) to slow down the traffic coming into the downtown area,“ Sassman said. “Most people don’t pay attention that the entire downtown area is only 25 miles per hour.”

Traffic studies conducted by the police, using hidden data-collecting devices, reveal details about how many cars violate speed regulations. When 25 percent to 30 percent of traffic on a particular road is violating the speed limit, officers usually take that as a cue to consider placing a digital speed sign, said Sassman.

The police department worked with the city’s engineering department to place the most recent six signs, which were obtained through a law enforcement grant.

Officials plan to add a digital speed sign on 38th Street near the new Perry Creek Elementary School, at 36th Street and Hamilton Boulevard, said Glenn Ellis, city engineer.

City officials also anticipate placing two speed signs on County Club Avenue after construction ends there, Ellis said.

For some, the signs don’t do much to slow down traffic. Ellen Shaner, co-owner of Dwight Hauff Sporting Goods at 714 Pierce St., said installment of the digital speed sign hasn’t convinced drivers to use their brakes.

“I still see everybody rolling past pretty fast,” Shaner said.

But even a relatively small reduction in speeding is enough reason for law enforcement to keep the signs up. Though costly at $3,100 apiece, they’re cheap to maintain because they run on solar energy, said Sassman.

“Even if we can slow down 20-25 percent of the potential speed violators by having that sign out, every little bit helps,” Sassman said.

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