Did you know the Police Department and Engineering Division receive over 300 requests per year to address various traffic-related issues in our neighborhoods? Typical traffic concerns include speeding, cut through traffic, parking and disobedience to stop signs. Based on the large number of people sharing their concerns on a regular basis with the Village, it is obvious that traffic is an important subject to our community.
To tackle traffic safety issues, engineers often refer to the three E’s: education, enforcement and engineering. Education alerts residents to ways they can ease traffic problems such as slowing down when driving in a neighborhood and using other modes of transportation such as a bus or bicycle. Enforcement enlists the assistance of the Police Department and their resources such as the radar trailer, drone car and radar enforcement to be a presence in the neighborhoods and enforce the traffic laws. Engineering tools include installation of signs and striping as well as implementation of traffic calming measures to reduce vehicle speed or volume on a particular street and improve pedestrian safety.
As the Engineering Division has begun to look for new ways to address neighborhood traffic concerns, we have considered a fourth E: expectation. Even though there are differences from neighborhood to neighborhood, street to street, and block to block, there are often similarities that cause motorists to expect consistent traffic regulations. For example, one street may have a posted 20 mph speed limit and the adjacent street with similar characteristics may have a posted 25 mph speed limit. Without a certain level of standardization, the expectation of a motorist may not be met which can, in this case, reduce a sign’s effectiveness over time and lead to a high rate of disobedience. A primary goal, therefore, is to provide a higher level of standardization in order to achieve greater obedience by motorists.
To that end, the Engineering Division has created two new programs per the direction of the Village Board of Trustees. They are the:
As part of the Residential Speed Limit Program, the Village will review existing speed limits neighborhood by neighborhood using today’s engineering principles in an effort to provide an expected pattern of speed limits on our local streets thus creating a higher level of standardization and safety.
As part of the Residential Intersection Traffic Control Program, the Village will review each intersection under the Village’s jurisdiction neighborhood by neighborhood using today’s engineering principles to determine the appropriate traffic control (stop signs, yield signs or uncontrolled).
So What’s Next?
As mentioned above, the Residential Speed Limit Program and Residential Intersection Traffic Control Program will be implemented neighborhood by neighborhood. The Engineering Division, therefore, has divided the Village into 18 “traffic zones” for the purpose of implementing the programs (Village Traffic Zone Map). Ultimately, over the next several years, all neighborhood speed limits and intersection traffic control will be reviewed.
Once a traffic study has been completed and the approved sign changes have been made, the Engineering Division will monitor the effect in the neighborhood. This will include performing post-studies near the six-month and twelve-month marks after the sign changes. Results of the post-studies will be available by clicking the Zone Study (above) for the particular neighborhood.
Will This Solve All Our Neighborhood Problems?
The short answer: No. The two new programs described above will be a great start to standardizing some of our traffic regulations in our neighborhoods but will not be a cure all. Having a consistent pattern of stop signs and speed limits will be an important step, however, in that a motorist’s expectation will increase when traveling street to street in a neighborhood. As a result, we anticipate a greater obedience to stop signs and speed limits making the neighborhood safer for everyone.
This is also an important step in that having a consistent set of traffic regulations will give more confidence to an officer to issue a ticket and know it will be upheld by our courts. Unfortunately, no matter what changes are made, there will always be those motorists who will choose to disregard our laws. This is where our Police Department comes in. The newly created Traffic Unit within the Police Department will be an integral part in enforcing the stop signs and speed limits within our neighborhoods. And judges tend to look more favorable in upholding tickets when there is consistency throughout the neighborhood based on sound reasoning.
As mentioned above, we acknowledge the two new programs will not be a cure all to neighborhood traffic issues. Whenever vehicles are allowed to “mix” with people in areas where they live and play, there will always be some level of concern with traffic. However, the two new programs will lay a good foundation and address some specific concerns. For those streets that continue to experience traffic issues such as parking problems, speeding concerns, cut through traffic and school safety, the Village will look to handle them on a case-by-case basis. The Police Department and Engineering Division will continue to work together to tackle these issues and will also explore new education, enforcement and engineering solutions.