SmartSigns placed around Pierce County to improve safety

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Several new traffic signs are flashing around Pierce County.

“Pierce County came up as one of the areas that has really high distracted driving rates,” said Tim Hogan, the founder of Safer Street Solutions.

Hogan is putting up his SmartSigns around Pierce County, which saw 116 traffic deaths last year, many of which involved distracted driving, speeding, and people not wearing seat belts.

Four SmartSigns will rotate around 12 different spots in the county, flashing reminders to drivers to slow down, put down the phone, and buckle up.

“We use a real-time infrared sensor and the one of the cool things about that is it doesn’t take any images, it doesn’t save any private data,” said Hogan.

Drivers remain anonymous and there’s no enforcement or ticketing with the program.

But the Pierce County Target Zero Traffic Safety Taskforce hopes it will provide clear data for traffic in key problem areas.

That includes school zones, according to a recent study involving local school districts.

“In all cases, most drivers were speeding in active school zones when children, families, and staff were present. We became pretty concerned that Pierce County drivers were not managing their speeds for safety,” said Janine Koffel with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

Hogan says his signs have helped reduce distracted driving by up to 40%.

“We expect to see a change in driver behavior while the signs are on, but we want to see if that change in behavior persists after the signs have been removed,” said Koffel.

The program in Pierce County is expected to run through July.

A similar program is operating in King County and started in March.

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