Norfolk asked to commit $249K for electronic speed signs

Norfolk OPP have determined that radar-gun technology isn’t enough to get local motorists to slow down and mind their driving. The force this week asked Norfolk council to spend $250,000 over five years on 31 electronic speed-monitoring signs. Demonstrating a Falcon HR radar gun at Norfolk OPP headquarters in Simcoe Wednesday was OPP Aux. Sgt. Brad Wiersma.

The Norfolk OPP have made a high-tech pitch to improve safety on local roads.

When the new Norfolk council gathers for its inaugural budget session in January, the capital budget will propose spending $250,000 on electronic signs that tell motorists how fast they are travelling and whether they need to slow down.

The expenditure includes $17,000 for a mobile, road-side trailer with a large digital read-out. Along with the trailer, the OPP are seeking 30 post-mounted devices.

Insp. Joe Varga, chief of the Norfolk OPP, said this technology has a proven track record of improving public safety while reducing municipal costs. The Norfolk Police Services Board agreed and forwarded the request, by resolution, to the new Norfolk council.

“A reduction in collision types will lessen the demand on emergency services,” Varga said Wednesday in his report to the PSB.

“With limited resources and budgets, any reduction in the demand for these services has the potential to equate to a savings for the county. Not to mention the reduced emotional and physical toll emergency responders are exposed to with each and every call for service.

“The reduction of these types of collisions can also have a significant impact on insurance claims and lawsuits.”

If approved, Norfolk would acquire the new technology over five years. Windham Coun. Jim Oliver, a Norfolk council appointee to the PSB, questioned the large number of pole-mounted devices requested.

Varga responded that the local detachment has places to put them, given the large number of speeding complaints the force, the PSB and Norfolk council members receive. Chair Peter Hellyer agreed.

“It’s important to have a number of them because — when somebody gets one — someone else is going to want one too,” Hellyer said.

The supplier is DavTech of Ottawa, a company that deals in a wide range of safety- and enforcement-related technology.

One of the little-known advantages of these devices, Varga said, involves motorists who zone out when driving in familiar territory.

In his report, Varga said nearly half of motorists have no recollection of the drive they just made after completing a regular route. The OPP has reported in recent years that distracted driving and driver inattention are among the leading causes of collisions.

“Speed-watch signs help break this habit as they will work to trigger and alert the driver as to their speed and break them out of this `autopilot’ mode, making them more aware,” the chief said.

Norfolk County has a Collision Reduction Committee. It is tasked with reducing the number of traffic accidents in the local area. Committee members shared letters of support with the PSB.

“Over the years, the focus of first responders has changed from response to prevention,” Fire Chief Terry Dicks said.

“Reducing the number of motor vehicle incidents protects our residents and visitors as well as our first responders. As a volunteer fire department, we rely on residents of our community who leave their jobs and families and respond to dangerous situations.

“In order to maintain our volunteer system, we try to find new ways to reduce the stress put on our first responders, which in turn reduces our staff turn-over and makes our community safer.”

Source: Simcoe Reformer