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Study: Traffic radar trailers can help improve speed enforcement

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Traffic radar trailers are providing data to help pinpoint when officers should be on the streets at peak hours to prevent speeding.

The Terrebonne Parish Council requested a study be done by Houma Police Lt. Bobbie O’Bryan to examine how well radar trailers work in curbing speeding in problems areas.

The radar trailer, which the department developed, provides data on how fast people are travelling, what type of vehicle it is, what times of the day speeding is most problematic and how many cars travel in an area in a given period of time. The information is provided in real time and is accessible by the department from anywhere via the Internet.

The trailers were also outfitted with cameras as a safeguard against tampering. The trailers cost roughly $5,500 each to assemble.

O’Bryan said the trailer was not being used as an enforcement tool but as a compliance tool to help people slow down and help Neighborhood Watch groups to substantiate their complaints.

The first study was done on East Street for a month to see if officer presence affected motorists’ speeding, O’Bryan said. Between Norman Street and Grand Caillou Road, a 25 mph stretch of road, the average speed was between 35 and 65 mph with a compliancy, or the amount of those abiding the speed limit, of less than 20 percent.

“We went out there for 10 days, wrote about 80 tickets and we noticed that compliancy started to fall in place with the speed limit,” O’Bryan said.

Officers were then pulled from the street, but the trailer was left, and the data showed that compliancy of the speed limit had grown to 65 to 75 percent. This allowed police to only need to remain on the streets to show their presence to curb speeding, O’Bryan said.

“Instead of having an officer out there from, say, 9 to 5, we were able to see the high times and the high points of traffic which were between 11 and 1. So now instead of an officer sitting out for hours, we were able to pinpoint the problem and place officers in those peak times,” O’Bryan said.

The data, Councilman Danny Babin said, is giving validity to speeding problems around the parish but also allows for law enforcement to use its manpower more efficiently.

“We don’t have the manpower, especially in this bad economic time, to have the luxury of policeman sitting at certain areas. This study seems to be working as you expected. This is something that we need to look long and hard at. I’m not saying to buy 25 of them, but if we can afford to buy five or six, and I’m just throwing numbers out, and we can slow people down, then that’s the whole purpose,” Babin said.

Councilman John Navy, who brought up the subject in May, said the combination of the trailer’s technology with enforcement from the police officers is what provides the trailer’s effectiveness.

“You do have speeding throughout the parish. People constantly complain about that, but the technology identifies those areas and you’re able to put enforcement,” Navy said.

The council agreed that the study should continue in Houma and other parts of Terrebonne Parish.

Courtesy :  Sean Ellis

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