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Driver feedback signs yield positive results

When confronted with the numbers, drivers tend to slow down.

Those are results found during several tests conducted around several "speed transition zones" at which Washington County has placed driver feedback signs during the past year.

The signs tested are permanent signs, set in the ground like other traffic signs. At the top are usual speed zone signs, noting the speed limit in the area. Underneath it are the digital feedback signs that display the speed of the vehicle approaching the sign.

The permanent signs prove much more successful than the same signs mounted on portable trailers, said Ted Schoenecker, transportation engineer for the county.

While peace officers may be the most effective in enforcing speed laws, "enforcement is only effective when they are out there," Schoenecker said.

Speeding is a regular complaint of motorists, and it is a contributing factor in crashes and their severity.

Tests were done primarily in speed transition zones, where the speed limit shifts from one speed to another.

The county collected data before and after the signs were installed, and collected it over seven months, much longer than any other studies have been conducted.

Results from the study showed that there was a significant drop in the speed of most vehicles as they went through the area. The study also concluded the signs brought about a reduction in overall speeds and better conformance with posted speeds.

So far, the county has had to do little maintenance on the $11,000 signs, Schoenecker said, and 10 signs are in place in the county, including at Bailey Road in Newport.