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North Huntingdon replacing outdated electronic speed signs

| Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, 4:30 p.m.

Simply letting speeding motorists know how fast they're traveling often is enough to get them to slow down, but three roadside radar devices that North Huntingdon Township have used to warn motorists are cumbersome and outdated, said North Huntingdon police chief Chief Andrew Lisiecki.

“We set them up on the side of the road near speed limit signs when we get complaints about speeding in a neighborhood,” the chief said. “But even the two portable units, which need to be mounted on a telephone pole, can be a bit heavy for one officer to handle. And the batteries are no longer holding a charge like they should.”

The third “Your Speed” electronic sign is mounted on a trailer that is pulled by one of the department's SUVs, he said, adding that it can take an hour or more to transport the devices to a location and set them up. The units being used are between eight and 12 years old.

Last month, township commissioners agreed to buy three new portable radar speed display units that weigh 10 pounds instead of 35 and have the added capability of taking photographs of passing vehicles.

A trade-in program offered by the supplier, State College-based All Traffic Solutions, enables the township to get the new devices for a total of $10,500.

Information from the new units can be retrieved wirelessly from the police station, Lisiecki said. With the old units, data such as the number and speed of vehicles that pass could be downloaded only after the units were returned to the police station or if an officer connected a laptop to the devices.

The old units also lack safeguards against tampering.

“A couple of years ago we had one of them stolen and another was beat up pretty good,” Lisiecki said. “These new units will send an alert to the police administrator if someone tries to tamper with them.”

Though the devices can clock a vehicle's speed using radar, state law prohibits municipal police departments from using radar to cite motorists who exceed the speed limit. When it comes to issuing speeding tickets, the township clocks drivers using the VASCAR, or Visual Average Speed Computer And Recorder, system; ENRADD, or Electronic Non-Radar Detection Device; or a stop watch.

Although speeding in residential neighborhoods is among the top complaints North Huntingdon police receive from residents, Lisiecki said data doesn't support it is a major problem in the township.

“We recently set up a device along a road where we received a lot of reports of speeding and over the course of a week, we counted about 400 vehicles going through the area,” he said. “But only two of them were driving fast enough to be cited.

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2360, or at tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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