Take speed deterrent's message in spirit, but not literally
Sign up for week, showed speed as likelihood of crash
Drivers on Watertown Plank Road just west of 124th Street saw more than just their speed while passing a speed trailer last week. The sign along the roadside gave the driver's odds of getting in an accident - or so it appeared.
In actuality, the illuminated number shown on the billboard-like speed trailer was their actual speed, not a scientifically derived percentage of being in an accident. A car traveling at 35 mph, therefore would cause the sign to read "Chance of crash: 35%."
The message is meant to show drivers how fast they are going while making them think about the dangers of speeding, the sign's co-creator said.
"We want people to think beyond speeding tickets to other costs associated with this type of speeding," said Jim Jodie, who developed the sign with Brian Steinseifer.
Jodie said the numbers are not meant to be taken literally, but rather represent the bigger message that slowing down can decrease the risk of being in an accident and that drivers have the power to change some accident risk factors. He cited a study by VicRoads, based in Australia, that showed decreasing speed reduces the likelihood of being in an accident.
The sign, which stated "Elm Grove Police" on the bottom, is not endorsed by the Police Department, Police Chief Jim Gage said. The department simply offered a stage for product development, giving Jodie and Steinseifer a chance to see how their idea for dissuading speeders works in real life. The sign was up for a week and then removed.
Gage said educated drivers should be able to discern the meaning of the signs.
"It's something new that they are testing to get some feedback," said Gage, adding that the village will not necessarily used them in the future.
Speed trailers, which use a radar device hooked up to an electronic sign to display a car's speed as it passes, have been used in many communities for several years. As drivers get used to seeing the signs, they lose their impact over drivers. At least that is the theory that inspired the two entrepreneurs to develop their signs.
"People drive through (Watertown Plank Road) pretty fast, and there are many pedestrians and bicyclists," said Jodie, whose parents live in Elm Grove. "We've created a way to get to people to stop and think."
The aptly named speed boards are placed in front of a speed trailer. There are three versions: one displays a driver's speed as the percentage chance of an accident, another presents it as the number of days in a hospital, and the third displays it as the amount of money spent on accident bills.
The boards are being piloted in Elm Grove.
"It's something to get people thinking about speed in a different way," Gage said, adding that the board did seem to get speeders to slow down as they tried to read it.
Jodie said he and Steinseifer are grateful the Elm Grove Police Department let them put up the sign, and they plan on placing signs elsewhere in September.
Both men have a background in advertising and began working on the project in their spare time about a year ago. Tempt In-Store Productions, based in Menomonee Falls, offered to pay the entire cost of making the boards, including printing and die-cutting.
"(The boards) let people know that they are in control of a lot of these accident factors," Jodie said.
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