After nearly a month, the Pratt Police Department has useful data from a pair of mobile radar units that were placed on city streets on June 3 — but not as much data as they had hoped.
The unit on Sixth Street worked well. When Chief Gary Myers pulled the data card from the North Main Street sign after it had been in place for a week, it displayed an error message. Some adjustments were made, and the card was reinserted. The same results were obtained, and after more adjustments, Myers was hopeful that when he removed the card on June 30, it would show a full week’s worth of information, which is considered the minimum time for reliable data.
No data was recorded, and Myers is checking with manufacturers of the various components. The sign is under warranty, he noted.
The signs confirm, however, that the volume of traffic on both streets is heavy.
At the June 16 meeting of the Pratt City Commission, Myers reported that the Sixth Street sign recorded 32,171 readings. That’s not necessarily the number of cars, he explained, because if several cars are following closely, they might be considered as one reading. The city has since put a traffic counter on the street to get a more accurate number of vehicles.
The heaviest traffic was around 8 a.m., during the noon hour and around 5 p.m., Myers said, indicating that a lot of people use the street for commuting to work on the east side of town. There was also a considerable amount of traffic from 6 to 8 p.m.
The average speed was 25.6 miles per hour, well below the posted 30 mph. The fastest speeds occurred during off-peak hours, Myers said.
The sign on Main Street has provided data for about a day and a half on two separate occasions. On June 16, Myers reported 20,392 readings on North Main from June 9 to 11. The average speed was 22 mph, when the speed was posted at 20. For the period between June 16 and 19, the speed limit was increased to 30 from Blaine north to the railroad tracks, but average speed was still around 23.5 mph.
Myers had earlier reduced the speed because residents on North Main complained that the combination of high speeds and rough streets was causing structural damage to their homes. The Kansas Department of Transportation has jurisdiction on U.S. highways, a fact that was brought to light when a Pratt resident questioned Commissioner Gary Skaggs about the difference in the speed between North Main (U.S. 281) and East First (U.S. 54).
The mobile signs have been useful in raising drivers’ awareness of how fast they’re going, Myers said.
“So many people have so many things on their mind,” Myers noted. “It does do the job.”
While the signs do not photograph violators, they do show a pattern. If readings indicate speeding in a particular location or at a particular time of day, Myers could instruct officers to visit the areas for enforcement.
Both signs will probably be moved this week. The one on North Main will be taken off the street until repairs are made and the one now on Sixth Street will move to a location that Myers wouldn't disclose.