The Plainsboro Police, working in collaboration with county and state traffic officials, have instituted a new initiative—Slow Down in Our Town—to get people to drive slower throughout the township.
Slow Down in Our Town is a “speed reduction program in partnership between neighborhood residents and local law enforcement, working together to coordinate placement of lawn signs in targeted neighborhood,” says the Middlesex County website.
The program is organized by the Middlesex County Comprehensive Traffic Safety Program, with support from the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety, and is implemented by township law enforcement officials. The Slow Down in Our Town program will continue in Plainsboro through at least 2018.
Along with Plainsboro, the program has also been launched in a number of other towns in Middlesex.
The program was created through a county “Design-A-Sign” contest, where K-12 students throughout the county were asked to create designs for signs that could address speeding and aggressive driving in residential areas.
The winning design submitted by Destiny Griggs from Monroe Township, a student at the Middlesex County Technical and Vocational High School in East Brunswick, is bright yellow and displays two children playing with a ball. The slogan “Slow Down in Our Town” was submitted by Michelle Levash of North Brunswick Township.
“We are coming up with a schedule for locations to place the signs,” Plainsboro Officer Brandon Ullom says. “These target areas will be where our patrol and traffic officers have identified areas of high speeding or aggressive driving, or areas where we get multiple complaints from residents.”
He says the department then contacts residents and asks for their permission to put these signs on their lawns.
The department will use 20 signs for the program, and place them in identified locations for one to two weeks.
These signs are not permanent—they are rotated to different areas of the town after a certain period of time. Various studies have shown that when signs are left in one place too long, motorists eventually ignore them.
“If you drive to work everyday on the same route, and something changes on that route, you’ll notice it. That’s the intention of these signs, especially with the bright yellow color, to catch the driver’s attention and have them reconsider if they’re going too fast,” Ullom says.
“The design of the sign itself also sticks out, because it shows the two children and a dog playing with a ball with an oncoming vehicle, which can represent anyone playing in their front yards or on their streets,” he added.
The program was launched in Plainsboro on June 26, on the corner of Edgemere and Parkway Avenue, which was the location of the first sign.
Attendees at the event included Mayor Peter Cantu, members of the township committee, township administrators and Dave McGregor, the coordinator for the Middlesex County Comprehensive Traffic Safety Program.
Ullom also emphasizes the importance of community support and engagement.
“I believe this program will help get the community involved,” Ullom says. “They will feel like they’re given the opportunity to do something about their (own safety, as well as the safety of their fellow residents).”
So far, the response from Plainsboro residents has been supportive. “We advertised the program launch on our social media accounts, and we’ve already had very positive feedback from residents through comments and messages,” Ullom says.
He adds that although the number of traffic violations issued in the township has remained relatively consistent in recent years, there is a need for innovative traffic safety programs in Plainsboro.
“A lot of our complaints are for speeders and aggressive driving in residential areas,” he says. “We try to go out and catch as many aggressive drivers as we can, but there’s only so much we can do ourselves, so we thought this would be a good program to put in place in our township.”
He adds that the most important goal of the program is getting the attention of drivers.
“Nowadays, drivers might be distracted by their phone or their passengers, so this sign will grab their attention and remind them that it’s their job to be a good driver and to slow down,” Ullom says.