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First traffic survey shows most don't speed downtown

June 03, 2009
TILTON — Most drivers don't actually speed through downtown Tilton, according to the first round of data extracted from the police department's speed trailer.

Police Chief Robert Cormier and Officer Merek Weisensee presented a traffic survey summary to the Board of Selectmen at its meeting last week. The survey, which took data collected from May 19-28, showed that, for the most part, people aren't speeding through downtown.

The board had recently been discussing the possibility of lowering the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph through downtown because of concerns for pedestrians.

"We've almost got that (25 mph speed limit) anyway," Weisensee said, pointing to the 35.9 percent majority that went 20-24 mph.

Another 24.4 percent of drivers went 25-29 mph, and 29.5 percent stayed under 20 mph. Out of the 20,321 cars tracked in the days, 1,634 exceeded the speed limit. Most speeders Ė 1,543 Ė stayed under 40 mph; 73 went more than 40 mph; and 18 went faster than 50 mph. The trailer tracked approaching vehicles only, and in this case the vehicles were traveling west.

Weisensee explained that most of the data was compiled on Main Street, but the trailer wasn't reset when it was moved to East Main Street, where the speed limit is 35 mph.

"Having it on East Main skews it a little bit," he said, noting that the East Main Street placement probably accounted for many of the drivers who drove faster than 30 mph.

Weisensee also said there are always a couple of "rogue" drivers who spot a speed trailer and then try to see how fast they can go. He said the trailer is programmed to shut off at a certain speed, relative to the speed limit, so there's no gratification for such drivers.

The first batch of data from the speed trailer was incomplete, but its purpose was to help the police department get a feel for the specific data it can produce. Now that they've put together a report, Comier said they can set up the trailer at specific times and in specific places, with or without a patrol officer standing next to it, to see what corrective actions do to impact speed. The trailer will be able to produce comparative surveys to highlight the differences, if any.

"It's a great tool," Cormier said.

He said the trailer will be used during Bike Week, most likely set up somewhere on Laconia Road, to help deter speeding.

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