By Bonnie Davidson
The Courier 

Speeders Beware: Digital Traffic Signs Aid Glasgow Police


Bonnie Davidson / The Courier

This Highway 2 traffic sign shows your speed, collects data on traffic levels and shows what times of day speeding is a problem.

Anyone traveling west on Highway 2 may have noticed the flashing sign at the bottom of the hill coming into town. It flashes your speed if you're above the posted limit, or at one point it will flash a frowning face to those who are coming in much too quickly.

The 9-inch highway sign has been there collecting data. The data in the sign is able to give law enforcement important information on traffic patterns on the highway. Glasgow Police Chief Bruce Barstad said that the Bluetooth driven data has given tpolice times to be at the bottom of the hill to keep speeds down. A new grant that came into the city in the amount of $8,919 will help purchase two more 15-inch signs and a radar gun.

"It can tell us where the problem areas and times are, and we can put extra patrols there," Barstad said. "We can use selective enforcement had have data driven patrols."

The smaller 9-inch sign will be moved to locations where complaints come in. The two larger digital traffic signals will be placed on the eastbound and westbound locations coming into town on Highway 2. It will continue to collect data to let law enforcement know not only what times there are traffic issues, but how much traffic is coming through town.

From Oct. 4 to 11, the digital traffic sign counted 28,000 cars headed westbound. That's an average of 4,666 vehicles per day headed in one direction. Out of all that traffic, around 21 percent were speeding.

"We're hoping to reduce those percentages, and we should see a progressive drop in speeders," Barstad said. "It should be educational for people too to slow down."

Barstad explained that the location was chosen because he knew there was a problem at the bottom of the hill. Traffic citations for Glasgow have increased from 2011 to 2013. The flashing sign has been effective on slowing people down. Problems with speeding at that location occur in the morning and around 5 p.m.

The larger signs will continue to collect data. The current study on traffic flow will continue until Sept. 30, 2014. Data from both directions will be combined to help state and local law enforcement know how many people are traveling through Glasgow. With increased traffic from the Bakken oil fields, the numbers could exceed what most might expect in the local area.

Barstad said he's received positive feedback on the smaller digital traffic sign that is currently up, and he hopes to see a bigger impact over time. The radar gun will also help local law enforcement stop those who are speeding through town. The funds came from the Montana Board of Crime Control as part of $211,589 that will help several local law enforcement agencies prevent and control crime.


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