By Travis Gulbrandson
Thanks to grant funding from the South Dakota Office of Highway Safety, the Vermillion Police Department has stepped up its patrols of one of the community’s biggest traffic problem areas.
The area in question is at the bottom of University Hill, where Chestnut Street, University Road and Burbank Road converge.
“We’ve had numerous speeding complaints from residents down there,” said Lt. Luke Trowbridge. “We’ve had a few accidents. One of them was a fatality.
“So basically, we’re just trying to do what we can to do an overall improvement of traffic safety in the area there,” he said.
With the grant – which was effective for the federal fiscal year of Oct. 1-Sept. 30 – the police department was able to purchase equipment that would help to better monitor the traffic in that part of town.
“We have purchased a traffic data recorder and we’ve put that into use already,” Trowbridge said. “That records the number of vehicles going to and from a location, and it records their speed, the date and the time, so we’re able to pinpoint the time of day when the speeding is occurring. …
“We’ve been able to put that in place and actually determine that vehicles are in fact speeding quite a bit down there,” he said.
A digital speed board also is going to be put up on a semi-permanent basis at the bottom of the hill, Trowbridge said.
“It’s going to be a somewhat mobile unit in the sense that we don’t want people to become accustomed to it,” he said. “We’ll potentially move it around in the future, but it’ll definitely be used down in that location for most of 2013.”
The police department also has applied for grant funding that will enable them to perform saturation patrols, during which they will look for drunk and impaired drivers, as well as those who are speeding.
In addition to this, the Vermillion police are continuing their participation in the three yearly national campaigns headed up by the Office of Highway Safety, including five other smaller campaigns throughout the year, along with saturation patrols during heavy-traffic events.
Trowbridge said the department hopes these combined efforts will go a long way toward keeping impaired drivers off the streets.
“I’m hoping that we can reduce the amount of traffic violations to include the speeding and accidents,” he said. “Our main goal is to have traffic safety awareness for that area so we can reduce accidents.”