Behind the numbers: How electronic speed signs help improve traffic safety

DANE COUNTY (WKOW) — Within the last week, law enforcement officers installed a temporary speed board on Woodland Drive in Waunakee. The sign flashes a driver’s speed as they approach, letting them know if they are above or below the posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour.

“It’s not uncommon to have a member of the community reach out to us and request a speed board, or make us aware of a traffic safety concern that they have in their neighborhood,” said Dane County Deputy Sheriff Steven Mueller.

Gary Maier, who lives across from the board, said he didn’t know they were going to install one, but was grateful that the sign was there to deter those who drive well above the posted limit.

“People speed,” he said. “They’re going 50, 55 coming down both hills.”

Eppie Larson, a mother of two who lives next door to Maier, said she’s happy with it and has seen a difference.

“I feel better with the slower speed,” she told 27 News.

Mueller said the sign is just a piece of traffic enforcement. As a part of the office’s traffic safety unit, he is constantly patrolling areas that have a history of concerns.

“We try to do our best in those areas, but we also try to go to areas that we don’t see as often where we do get complaints as well,” he said.

The signs can help. Some speed boards, like the one on Woodland Drive, can record the time and speed of vehicles driving by. That data can help deputies decide what time of day might be best for follow up traffic enforcement efforts.

Those efforts could include stopping drivers, even writing speeding tickets. But if the sign, which is portable, is moved, Mueller said drivers can slip back into old habits.

“We’ll get either a comment or concern from a citizen or we’ll just go out and work the area, and try to maintain the gains we made in traffic safety over a period of time,” he said.

Traffic safety is a constant, educational effort.

“Traffic safety is a responsibility we all share so it is the responsibility of the resident, it’s the responsibility of drivers, and it’s our responsibility,” he said. “The more we work together as a team, the more we can make the roads a safer place.”

Sara Maslar-Donar

Sara Maslar-Donar

Reporter, WKOW 27 News

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