Radar Signs Expected to Enhance Traffic Safety

Photo courtesy SMPD
In addition to a radar trailer, the San Marino Police Department now counts two of these radar signs among its speed enforcement arsenal.

The San Marino Police Department looks forward to keeping track of traffic issues more precisely with the help of two new portable radar signs, the use of which will begin this week in conjunction with a separate radar trailer.
While the larger trailer is used on bigger and more traveled streets, the department plans to use the signs — which can be attached to light poles — on smaller side streets in town.
“You can’t put them on some of the small side streets without them interfering with traffic,” Sgt. Tim Tebbetts said, referring to trailers. The portable signs “will connect to the city light poles or wherever the city dictates they go. They’ll be easy to move from street to street; we can move them to, say, Lorain Road for two weeks and then maybe Mill Road for another two weeks.”
The devices are part of the City Council’s broader priority initiative to ramp up enforcement against speeding and address other traffic issues in San Marino. Much like the radar trailer that was purchased last year, the two signs are primarily powered by solar panels and also use chargeable batteries with reserve power as a backup. The devices will showcase the speed of a vehicle as it approaches, flashing when the vehicle exceeds the posted limit and adding bright red and blue lights to the mix if the speed is extreme.
Also like the radar trailer, the signs can be programmed to record traffic speeds in their area for a specific time frame, allowing the city and the police department to analyze traffic patterns with more precision.
“The one thing I like the best about both of them is that they have the traffic monitoring,” Tebbetts said. “Sometimes we strictly base enforcement off traffic complaints, but this will actually give us data to review and say ‘Oh, these are the times we really need it.’ The data that we’ll get from all the radar devices will actually show us when we need to deploy resources to a certain location.”
Police Chief John Incontro called the set of radar devices “a force multiplier” because they can handle the tasks of a patrol officer, who otherwise would have to park somewhere and use a radar gun.
“Instead of having officers standing on a corner using radar and everything else, we can use these traffic feedback signs to let us know what’s going on,” he said.
Incontro added that use of the radar will also bolster enforcement of speeding laws by patrol officers. The department is also in the midst of reviving its traffic unit, which will have officers on motorcycles specifically on a traffic education and enforcement detail.
“It helps us in the long run and it can also help us as we look into the future with changing speed limits or working with public works on engineering certain streets,” Incontro said.
The signs were purchased from Kustom Signal Inc. Tebbetts said the acquisition of was delayed largely by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected the manufacturing sector in terms of sourcing and production. Tebbetts also was delayed in actually assembling the devices when they arrived, as a possible coronavirus exposure forced him into the 10-day quarantine.
“So that took me out of building it and getting it ready,” he said.
One device will be put into use this week, while the department awaits using the second; a faulty solar panel is being replaced.

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