Do digital radar signs reduce traffic speed? Milford police say yes

MILFORD — Drivers passing those portable signs that display their speed compared to the legal limit may wonder if the signs have any effect on traffic and speed in the area.

According to Milford police, they really do.

Making drivers aware of their speed has resulted in lower speeds in areas of the city where police have deployed the signs, according to a traffic study provided by the Milford Police Department.

Public information officer Marilisa Anania said digital speed signs are placed after an analysis by the police department's traffic division on a specific stretch of road.

"The Board of Police Commissioners can then approve or deny the installation request or ask the traffic division for more information," Anania said.

There are eight such signs in place around Milford, including one on Gulf Street at New Haven Avenue.

The speed limit at the Gulf Street sign is 25 mph. According to the state DOT, the Gulf Street sign showed the 85th percentile speeds, the speed at which 85 percent of vehicles travel at or below, were about 36 mph. The addition of the radar sign, combined with a speed limit sign, resulted in 85th percentile speeds dropping between 2 and 7 mph.

"Milford has used these speed feedback signs at other locations in the city and has found them to be successful in lowering operating speeds over prolonged periods of time," Officer Daniel Hemperly said. 

Milford is planning to add two more digital radar speed signs on East Broadway between Silver Sands and Surf Avenue, to bring the total to 10. 

Sergeant Jay Kranyak, the officer assigned to the traffic study, said the department is mainly interested in controlling speeds during beach season and when school is in session.

"There are some instances where school bus stops are on one side of East Broadway, and the students still cross both sides of the street to get to their houses," Kranyak said. "The problem that this causes is that vehicles traveling opposite the school bus do not have to stop for it even if the stop bar, stop sign, and lights are present due to the presence of a physical median separating the road."

To keep the speed of the 85th percentile of vehicles low, Kranyak suggested adding two speed feedback signs to the area.

"This will promote a positive effort beyond normal, periodic enforcement and replace the need to utilize a speed trailer, which at times, could be cumbersome," he said.

Another location where the the traffic division recommended a digital speed sign is on Milford Point Road at Court Street after data showed an 85th percentile of vehicle speed to be 44 miles per hour. The speed limit at that spot is also 25.

What initiated the process was a request from John Shanley, chairman of the Laurel Beach Association, who said speeding issues happened during the morning and afternoon rush hour.

Officer Alfred Mauro, assigned to the traffic study, said that area is a two-way road with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour. There is a "reverse curve" sign just before Court Street and an advisory speed sign for 20 mph after the tennis courts.

The study pointed out the road accommodates residential traffic, beach-goers, rental properties, the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center at Milford Point, and is a route for both transit and school buses.

Data gathered from the study was taken at three locations and yielded 85th percentile speeds of 38 miles per hour, 40 miles per hour and 24 miles per hour. For the updated data set, traffic counters were placed on Milford Point Road, before Court Street, between Jan. 19 and 25, yielding an 85th percentile of vehicle speed to be 44 miles per hour.

The traffic division recommended speed feedback signs be installed on the north portion of the property at 334 Milford Point Road near the 20 mile per hour warning sign and also recommended increased enforcement.