By John Schaffner
The Wildwood Civic Association placed a data-recording radar speed control sign alongside Howell Mill Road in December and clocked three cars traveling faster than 80 mph on the winding, two-lane road.
Jud Ready, president of the Wildwood Civic Association, said the organization participated in a program in which the Buckhead Coalition offered  grants of $2,300 to neighborhood groups so they could purchase radar signs to help control speeding along residential streets.  Ready said the Wildwood Civic Association added some of its money to the grant and bought the data-recording radar sign.
During the initial study period the unit recorded traffic speeds from 6 a.m. to 11p.m. for northbound traffic at the intersection of Howell Mill Road and Kipling Drive. The speed limit at the intersection is 30 mph.
Data collected during the period Dec. 5 to Jan. 15 showed:
• The highest speed recorded was 88 mph;
• Three cars were recorded travelling faster than 80 m.p.h;
• 272 cars were recorded travelling faster than 50 mph;
• 8,790 cars — approximately 1 out of  every 11 cars — were recorded travelling faster than 40 mph, or 10 mph more than the posted speed limit;
• The maximum traffic volume occurs between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.;
• The median speed was 37 mph.
Ready said the sign will be reconfigured to record southbound traffic at the  same location. That data will be reported in about a month, he said.
Five Buckhead neighborhoods have participated in the coalition’s grant program to purchase the portable radar signs.
In addition to Wildwood, those neighborhoods are: North Buckhead, Paces, Tuxedo Park and Buckhead Forest.  Ready also is urging the adjacent Springlake neighborhood to secure a grant and buy its own radar sign “so that our neighborhoods can work together to have simultaneous recording of both northbound and southbound traffic on Howell Mill.”
The radar sign begins flashing as a warning to drivers when vehicles are going 33 mph or faster. The sign can display speeds up to 99 mph, but now is set to not display speeds faster than 55 mph in order  to discourage “racing the sign,” a common problem  with fixed radar signs involving  young or aggressive drivers.
The Wildwood Association has its sign set for a radar pickup distance of 350 feet. It registers the volume of traffic in the various speed ranges in hourly segments.
Ready also is urging officers in Zone 2 of the Atlanta Police Department to increase enforcement actions along Howell Mill.
Shortly after he posted the data from the radar sign on the Internet, Ready said he received a welcome response from Zone 2 Commander Major Robert Browning.
“Two weeks ago I started a mini traffic enforcement team—only three officers, but they are already setting records. I will pass this e-mail to their commander, Lt. (Mark) Cotter,” Browning wrote.