Goddard utilizes new tool to catch red-light runners, cut down on accidents

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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GODDARD, Kan. -- After a bad year of car accidents, the city of Goddard is trying something new in hopes of putting a dent in the numbers.

City crews have installed so-called "tattletale" lights on traffic signals. The small blue lights are designed to help police catch drivers who are running red lights.

"This was an easy way we thought we could reduce some of these accident rates," Goddard Police Chief Sam Houston said.

When a signal turns red, the blue light turns on too. Unlike the traffic lights, the blue lights can be seen from any direction. No matter where an officer is in an intersection, they'll be able to tell when someone has run a red light.

This week, the lights were installed at the intersection of 199th Street West and 23rd Street, right in front of Goddard High School. It's a trial run to see how easy it is to install and monitor the lights.

The hope is they'll eventually be placed in other high traffic areas, especially the intersections with Kellogg, to cut down on last year's high accident rate.

In 2013, the city saw 68 accidents which included 17 hit-and-run crashes, Houston said. That's up from 52 accidents in 2012 and 58 accidents in 2011.

"As a city government, we are really concerned about the safety of people who are driving and coming through our town, so we are always looking for new innovative ways to keep the roads safer," said Kyler Ludwig, assistant to the Goddard city administrator.

Ludwig is a graduate of the University of Kansas. That's where much of the research on the lights has been done. For the past six months, researchers have been testing them out with drivers at intersections in Lawrence and Overland Park.

"The research has shown that when you know you can be caught for a violation, (drivers) are more likely to follow the law," Ludwig said.

The lights are relatively cheap. Ludwig says they cost $120.

Houston says the lights will help the police department with enforcement. But he says these lights are not about helping his officers write more tickets.

He hopes they'll be an educational tool for drivers that will keep drivers safer throughout the city.

"For the price of less than a cable bill, if you will, if we can either save a life or cut down on the property damage at these intersections, it's worth it," Houston said.

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