Traffic? Call it 1.4 million and counting

Data from the electronic speed sign on Main Avenue shows most drivers adhere to the speed limit.

More than one million vehicles traveled along Main Avenue in St. Maries during an eight-month period.

This data, and more, is provided to the city by the speed indicator sign located at 13th Street and Main Avenue, east of Heyburn Elementary.

The city permanently mounted the sign a little more than a year ago. The legal speed limit in the city is 25 miles per hour. The sign was placed by the school to alert drivers to their speed in hopes that it would encourage them to slow down.

But the sign reads data both ways – to vehicles leaving town and entering the town.

“It gives you a really good indication of just how busy Main Avenue is,” Mayor Carver said. “We can go anytime and download the data. We also have one here near city hall we could go to and download information from if we wanted.”

Drivers who have their speed displayed to them are known as incoming traffic when looking at the data. Those who approach the sign from behind, and don’t see their speed, are known as outgoing traffic. It keeps track of the speeds of vehicles from both directions.

From Sept. 19, 2019, to June 23, 2020, there were a total of 737,201 incoming vehicles and 684,794 outgoing vehicles. That makes for a total of 1,421,995 vehicles.

One thing to keep in mind is that if someone drives past the sign everyday going to and from work their vehicle is counted each time. The vehicle’s speed is noted as well as the time it was recorded.

Mayor Carver said according to data, the average speed of incoming traffic was 20.59 miles per hour. It was 20.88 miles per hour for outgoing traffic.

“The highest max speed registered for incoming traffic was 80 miles per hour and the highest for outgoing was 69 miles per hour,” Mayor Carver said. “This could, of course, have been an ambulance or officer on the way to a call.”

During the six-month period, two incoming cars came into the sign going faster than 64 miles per hour while nine outgoing vehicles passed the sign at that speed or higher.

Mayor Carver said the city could learn at what time a high speed was registered and check it against emergency logs to determine if it was indeed related to emergency services. If there was a time of day where the city was seeing traffic with increased speed it would be easy to let an officer know in order to monitor the area.

The data, Mayor Carver said, shows that 2,759 incoming vehicles hit the speed indicator sign at 31 miles per hour or more. However, that number almost doubles when you look at outgoing vehicles, those who do not have their speed shown to them, 5,527.

“We have seen the sign helps slow people down. I would like to have signs placed on each of the entrances to town,” Mayor Carver said.

The city received a grant for $30,000 for new signage around the town. That money, Mayor Carver said, will be available Oct. 1.

“We will be assessing the condition of the signs around town and replacing those in need. We expect to replace around 180 signs. We will be looking to replace ones that don’t reflect enough light. These speed indicator signs cost approximately $2,500 a piece and so I’d like to get three or four more so we can put them on each end of town,” he said. “Other signs we want to add include additional yield signs at certain intersections and children playing signs.”

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