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Plum police use new recorders to analyze speeding patterns

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum
Plum police Officer Michael DeMarco demonstrates the use of the department's radar recorder.
Plum police Officer Michael DeMarco demonstrates the use of the department's radar recorder. Lillian DeDomenic | for The Plum Advance Leader

The Plum police department routinely receives complaints about speeding on area streets.

“When we get speeding complaints, we take people's word and do enforcement,” Lt. Jeffrey Armstrong said. “We don't see it sometimes. And we are faced with the conundrum — stay there or move on.”

The department now has a tool to give them a clearer picture of traffic patterns on local roads.

The recorder, manufactured by Jamar Technologies Inc. in Hatfield, Montgomery County, is mounted on a pole and records the number of vehicles traveling in each direction and the times. It measures the vehicles' speeds and produces reports based on the data collected for up to two weeks at a time.

Armstrong learned about the device while attending a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation seminar last year in Moon.

“It tells us whether there is a problem, the degree of the problem and makes us more efficient rather than arbitrarily picking a time (to do speed enforcement),” Armstrong said.

Plum police purchased two of the devices at $3,800 each, Armstrong said. A kit contains the recorder which is a black box. Software and a battery also make up the radar recorder package.

“It gives us a better understanding of the actual traffic patterns on the road and the enforcement time,” said Officer Michael DeMarco who downloads the information from the radar recorder onto a computer.

The department put the device to work last November on Trestle Road.

Residents had concerns about speeders on Trestle Road, particularly those who used the road as a shortcut.

Trestle Road connects Monroeville Center Road to Pierson Run Road.

Council had approved spending $13,900 on three speed humps.

The plan changed after the police department analyzed data from the radar recorder.

“The traffic patterns are different on weekends and weekdays,” Armstong said.

Borough officials opted to post no-turn signs onto Trestle Road between 4 and 7 p.m. on weekdays — the time frame that recorded the most speeding. The borough put the speed humps on hold.

Armstrong said officers monitored traffic after the signs were posted and have issued more than 50 citations to drivers who disobeyed the no-turn signs.

“It makes regulating traffic on the road easier,” Armstrong said.

Trestle Road resident Mary Beth Held is pleased with the results.

“It is absolutely safer,” Held said. “I just wish it (the radar recorder) could issue citations.”

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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