Hit the brakes in Hillsville

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Police speedily rolled its latest traffic safety tool on the streets of Hillsville.

Police Chief Steve Williams told town council members at their meeting last Monday about the department's interest in buying a "speed trailer" — the roadside radar device with electronic readout meant to slow down traffic.

"If you were near the intermediate school after lunch today, Decatur Radar brought what they call a speed trailer for us to demo…" Williams explained.

He didn't want to invest in the equipment before trying it out first.

"I think we may get a sweet deal on it because he [the company representative] didn't want to take it all the way back to Tennessee," Williams said.

His department has grant money that has to be spent, and this device is one of the approved items the chief can buy.

In the demo, police set up the speed trailer on Main Street and then stepped out back to watch it working.

"It's absolutely amazing the immediate effect it had on traffic," Williams noted.

The officers intend to use the device often, and the chief could see it going in school zones, construction zones or neighborhoods with reports of traffic problems.

He foresees setting up the speed trailer with an officer also running radar nearby, Williams explained. Motorists seeing their speeds on the readout should be a deterrent.

"It's like having an extra person without tying up anybody," he noted.

Council Member Greg Yonce wondered if the device keeps records.

A memory card in the speed trailer captures information that allows it to generate three reports for police to study, Williams answered. One contains the time and speed for every vehicle went through the zone.

It creates a chart that shows speed violations, he said. For example, if the speed limit is 25 mph, the chart will show every instance where a vehicle came through at 26 and faster.

Council members indicated they liked what they learned.

"I think that would be a very helpful piece of equipment for the town to have," Yonce said. It could be used for the benefit of many neighborhoods in town, he added.

Last Tuesday, police set up the new equipment by the tennis courts across from Carroll County High School in the 25 mph zone.

It simply displays the speed of drivers going within acceptable limits, but flashes in warning at motorists who barrel along too fast.

Last Wednesday, the equipment sat on Main Street in front of Carroll County Intermediate School.

The speed trailer does not do one thing, Williams said in response to a question from Council member Orba Alderman — it doesn't record license plates.