Michigan speeders might want to smile for the camera as they cruise past Grand Traverse County’s new portable radar speed detecting sign.
The device will snap a photograph of anyone travelling 15 miles per hour or more than the posted speed limit.
The county recently erected a sign that displays vehicle speeds on Peninsula Drive near the spot resident Debbie Freeman’s neighbor lost a dog to a speeding driver.
“People fly through here,” Freeman said. “We have an older couple who live next door and they have a hard time just getting their mail.”
Freeman said she’s glad to hear of the display and hopes motorists will back off the gas pedal if they know their image may be captured and logged.
The new sign’s picture-taking capabilities were an unexpected bonus, but likely will be short-lived, said sheriff’s department Capt. Randy Fewless.
“It was part of a free, trial offer from the company and I don’t know what we would use them for,” Fewless said of the pictures.
There are no plans to use photos to issue tickets; Fewless said he’s not sure if that practice is legal in Michigan. For now, he expects a deputy assigned to Peninsula Township to review the pictures to see if he recognizes vehicles so he can keep an eye out for offending drivers.
The county purchased the sign from All Traffic Solutions of Pennsylvania with a grant from AAA insurance. The company provides a software package that allows sheriff’s officials to manage the sign over the Internet and view images.
Such extras require an ongoing paid subscription to the company. That’s not why the county picked up the sign, Fewless said.
Signs are designed to record the speed and the time of day for each vehicle that passes. Deputies then may download that information to determine what time of day speeding occurs and target those times for enforcement, Fewless said.
“It will help us allocate our deputies more efficiently and target areas where they can be most productive,” he said.
Fewless recalled his days as a patrol officer and being assigned to areas that generated numerous speeding complaints. He frequently documented the speeds and discovered few people were breaking speed limits.
The new radar sign will save the county’s current road patrol officers from “wasting their time when nothing is going on,” Fewless said.
Anything that discourages speeding is appreciated in Peninsula Township, said Rob Manigold, township supervisor.
“We continuously have speeding on Peninsula Drive, East Shore Road, and Bluff Road,” Manigold said.
Speed displays alone have proven effective in prodding drivers to slow, Fewless said.
“I think when they see the sign they slow down because they don’t want other people to see they are speeding,” Fewless said.
The electronic display straps below any standard speed limit sign and doesn’t require its own trailer. The intent is to keep the radar display moving throughout the county to identify trouble spots, Fewless said.
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