Problematic Behavior or Activity
Rhododendron Drive is a well-traveled roadway in the City of Florence. Between 2010 and the beginning of 2017, 58 crashes were reported on Rhododendron Drive. Fourteen of the crashes involved some degree of injury. Many of the crashes occur in the curved sections of the roadway that connect otherwise straight sections. Additionally, with the completion of a Transportation Enhancement Grant project, the paved shoulders on Rhododendron were extended to create six-foot bike and pedestrian lanes and enhanced vision clearances. While this increases accessibility and visibility, the wide roadway also allows motorists to feel more comfortable at higher speeds.
Impact on the Community
According to the Problem-Oriented Policing Guide, Speeding in Residential Areas (2001), there are five types of harm associated with speeding that impact a community: 1. Citizens fear for children’s safety; 2. Pedestrians and cyclists fear for their own safety; 3. Increased risk of vehicle crashes; 4. Increased seriousness of injuries for those involved in the traffic accidents; 5. Increased road noise. These were all concerns mentioned by residents of Florence.
The program entailed placing two radar-equipped electronic display speed signs with data collection capability at the north and south ends of a crash prone roadway. A significant number of the crashes on this road are attributable to speeding, so the goal was to reduce speeds and increase driver awareness. One sign was placed in the 30 mph zone and one was placed in the 40mph zone. The speed transitions from 30 to 40 mph in the middle of the two signs. Traffic data logged by the speed signs was collected after three months.
Based on Research
This project was funded with a $13,000 micro-grant from the Center of Policing Excellence. In addition to the grant, the City of Florence paid for the cost of equipment and labor to install the signs. This included mounting poles, area preparation, concrete foundation placement, and the installation and programming of signs. The total City contribution was just under $5,000.
This program is believed to have had a positive impact on traffic safety and public perception of speeding on Rhododendron Drive. In the data taken from the beginning of October 2017 through the end of December 2017, 85% of speeds were within four and five mph of the 30 and 40 mph speed limits.
Citation and DUII enforcement data during October 2017 to December 2018, showed an increase from the same period during the prior year. It is possible that this is, in part, due to increased traffic enforcement during the test period.
Only one reported injury crash occurred on Rhododendron Drive during the reporting period. However, the driver had not yet come to the section of road covered by the speed signs. Both high speed and intoxication were factors in the crash.
Prior to the implementation of this project, it was commonly believed that a speeding problem existed on Rhododendron Drive, though there was little data to support that assertion. The only data available was citation information and crash statistics. An alternative beginning to the program would have been to install the speed signs with no visible display for a month or so to get a better baseline before they were activated.