A new driver feedback sign, which displays the speed of each passing westbound vehicle, has been installed along the north side of Shadowlawn Avenue in the heart of the Deer Field Estates subdivision.
That section of Shadowlawn is a school zone with a posted 20-mph speed limit. When a passing vehicle exceeds that 20-mph speed, a light atop the feedback sign flashes a warning.
"The mayor and I decided it would be a good speed deterrent if we had these driver feedback signs up in our school zones," Greencastle Police Chief Tom Sutherlin explained.
He said the location on Shadowlawn was selected for a couple of reasons.
"The first being it is before the school entrance as you travel westbound on Shadowlawn," Sutherlin said, "along with it being just before the crossing of the People Pathway."
The chief said his hope is "to deter motorists to slow down not only before the school entrance but also before the People Pathways crossing."
The device is virtually identical to the driver feedback sign placed on South Jackson Street near the VFW Post a couple years ago.
"I know that speeding complaints have gone down on Jackson Street," the police chief noted. "That doesn't mean that motorists aren't speeding, but we are receiving fewer complaints of speeding since we have installed the driver feedback sign on Jackson Street."
Sutherlin also believes the number of traffic accidents at the intersection of Jackson and Hanna streets in the DePauw University campus area has decreased since the feedback sign was installed.
City Police staff researched their records and the results were impressive.
"We didn't have one accident reported at that intersection that required an accident report," Chief Sutherlin said.
"It most definitely has slowed down northbound traffic," he added, "because they are seeing the flashing speed as they come into town. However, I believe traffic is traveling faster as it travels south out of town because they don't see the sign."
The feedback sign cost less than $4,000, Mayor Sue Murray said, crediting Chief Sutherlin and Department of Public Works Supt. Brad Phillips for fostering the project and selecting the proper location to maximize effectiveness.
"We chose that spot mainly due to it being a school zone," Phillips said, "and at the same time, with the new pathway crossing there, we felt we should have a safer crossing for that."
City officials stopped short of saying when or if additional feedback signs might be added in areas around Greencastle. But Chief Sutherlin, for one, is enthusiastic about the effort and its results.
"I do believe these signs help reduce speeding in their specific locations," he said, "however, as you know, not everyone follows the rules. I'm sure if our officers would continue to run radar in these locations, motorists would still be speeding."