Radar trailer a success

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 3, 2003

For about two weeks now, many residents in the City of Andalusia have probably noticed a new weapon for the Andalusia Police Department in the battle against speeding in the form of a radar trailer which lets drivers know just how fast they are driving.

More importantly, the sign may also be a warning that drivers are exceeding the speed limit in a certain area.

Andalusia Police Chief Wilbur Williams Jr. said the trailer was purchased in order to address several concerns.

"We were having numerous complaints from citizens that I received and (Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson) had received on a daily basis regarding speeding in neighborhoods throughout Andalusia," said Williams. "We do not have the manpower on a regular-scheduled basis to attack that problem. It is obvious we have a problem based on statistics we have compiled during our (recent) highway safety grant program that we did. Officers could go out and work eight hours and write just as many tickets as they could physically complete in an eight-hour shift without any trouble."

Williams said there is no certain part of the city where the problem is worse than others, adding that he gets complaints about speeding in the inner city, near Andalusia High School and in locales such as Lindsey Bridge Road and the Bypass.

"In talking with the mayor, he knew that I had actively tried to find some funding through the Highway Safety Program to purchase one of the speed trailers, and we had used trailers extensively when I was in Mobile and we seemed to see some positive results from it," said Williams. "I was desperately searching for funding and was unable to find sufficient funding for (a radar trailer), and it was (Johnson's) instigation that led me to submit a request to the city council. He said he felt like the council was aware of (the speeding problem) and the council members had received complaints about the problem."

Williams said the city looked around at various equipment places and finally found McCoy's Law Line in Chanute, Kan., who had more economically-sound trailers than various other companies.

"We opted to go with one of the more conventional models, although we did add a blinking light, which apparently has been a very, very big part of (the trailer's effectiveness)," said Williams. "We started deploying it around the city and we just do it randomly and have no real set schedule for it. We try to deploy it at least five days a week and it is a good information source. This is not an enforcement tool at this time, but it very well will become an enforcement tool in the future. This is just a mechanism for trying to make the driving public aware of what they're doing and assign some significance to it so they can see in visual form just how fast they're going."

The trailer cost the city $6,850, including the blinking light and delivery charge.

He said he has seen positive affects from the trailer.

"I have watched it at several locations," said Williams. "I have watched cars approach it and you can see the front end of the cars when the driver hits the brakes (after spotting the trailer). It is working, but our only question is whether we can let it be a long-term reminder. By (eventually) using it as an enforcement tool we'll enhance the reinforcement effect of it. We are not going to sneak up on people or hide in bushes and we are not going to become a speed trap. We are going to do everything we can to encourage our citizens to comply with the law and not put us in a position where we have to resort to the enforcement side to make it work."

While the speeding problem in Andalusia is contributed to by all ages, said Williams, young people are especially contributing to the problem.

"The young people (feel) they are infallible and indestructible and nothing can happen to them," said Williams.

Overall Williams said he is more than pleased with the trailer, and the results which have transpired from it.

"(The trailer) has been very productive and it's sending a message, hopefully a message that the citizens will take to heart and understand that we are trying to avoid getting into a full-fledged enforcement mode," said Williams.

Williams added that he has heard many positive comments about the trailer and said many people have asked when the trailer would be located on their street or road.