Dillon puts radar sign data to work in an effort to improve traffic safety | SummitDaily.com

Dillon puts radar sign data to work in an effort to improve traffic safety

A car drives past a speed radar sign on LaBonte Street in Dillon on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. Dillon is hoping data collected from the recently installed signs in the town core will help to improve traffic safety measures moving forward.
Sawyer D’Argonne/Summit Daily News archive

DILLON — Officials are using data collected from recently installed speed limit signs to inform efforts to slow traffic through town and improve enforcement.

Over the past month, Dillon officials have been collecting data from radar speed signs installed at locations around the town core. A total of eight have been installed in locations lining Tenderfoot and La Bonte streets, and additional signs will be added in locations like Buffalo Street. The signs collect data on how many vehicles are passing by, when they’re passing by and how fast they’re going.

With numbers already in hand and more data collection ongoing, officials believe the figures will prove valuable in helping to slow traffic and implement other measures to keep roadways safe.

“We’re really trying to get an idea of how fast people are going, and the sheer number of vehicles, as well,” said Cale Osborn, Dillon’s chief of police. “It will help from an engineering standpoint, looking at where some traffic calming measures could be advantageous. And obviously some of the stuff we’re looking at from a police department standpoint is higher speeds, time of day, and those sorts of things we can use to look at direct enforcement and really targeting aggressive drivers through town.”

While the data reveals that there are clearly people speeding, the numbers suggest that most drivers are moving at relatively safe speeds. The speed limit in areas where data collection is taking place is 20 mph, and the average speed of motorists ranged from 18-25 mph at different signs, based on a 26-day study from Oct. 1-26.

Osborn said the implementation of the signs has noticeably helped to reduce speeds in the area already. But the high-speed marks outlined in the report are more troubling, showing some drivers blowing through West La Bonte at 59 mph and Lower Tenderfoot Street at 55 mph. Knowing where and when drivers are most likely to speed will allow Dillon Police officers to more efficiently enforce the limits.

“There are a lot of points during the day where the high is 20,” Osborn said. “The speed and data signs have had a pretty positive effect in slowing people down. But there are certainly times during the day where volumes and average high speeds are up. We will be more likely to have enforcement at that point, as opposed to some of the off-peak times, so we can really hone in on the high averages.”

In addition to more focused enforcement efforts, Dillon is planning on moving forward with speed bump installations around the core area next spring on Tenderfoot, La Bonte and Gold Run Circle.

“That’s the plan for now until we get more data that would dictate additional action is needed,” said Kerstin Anderson, Dillon’s head of marketing and communication. “We think we’re on the right track. … We want people to make sure they’re following the law, being safe and being mindful that they’re driving through communities. There are pedestrians and families utilizing these streets.”

While not currently part of the ongoing data collection efforts, officials are also discussing ways to improve safety along Colorado Highway 6. Officials said the section of highway from Little Beaver Trail to the end of the town’s municipal boundary has historically been one of the town’s most troublesome areas for speeding and serious crashes.

Osborn’s report noted that officers routinely pull over drivers on the highway going 20 mph over the speed limit. There also have been three fatal crashes on the roadway in the past four years, all of which listed speed as a factor.

Officials are set to launch into more conversations about what could be done, including reaching out to the Colorado Department of Transportation to see if the speed limits could be reduced to slow drivers and create more consistent speeds between Dillon and Keystone.

“We do support that,” Osborn said. “We’ve had a humbling amount of major crashes these last few years within our municipal boundary. Speed is only part of that. We need to be looking at the big picture to include things like signage, markings and the overall traffic flow. And we’re trying to do what we can to make it as safe as possible.”

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