A lot of small towns in Guilford County and across the country have a problem with speeders making their roads unsafe for kids and other motorists.

In some cases, it may be a town resident, while at other times it could be a thoughtless city slicker testing out a new sports car he’s considering buying.

 Regardless, the city of Oak Ridge has had enough and it’s taking steps to convince drivers to put the pedal to the medal – the brake pedal, that is.

The moves come in the wake of the tragic deaths of two children in town who were hit by cars in the last several years.

This summer, Oak Ridge installed the town’s first permanent digital radar sign on Haw River Road in an effort to deal with one problem zone.  Those are the signs common in Greensboro and other cities that show the speed limit and also have a display that provides real-time feedback as to the driver’s actual speed.

The sign is east of Apple Grove Road in Oak Ridge heading toward Stokesdale.  If the sign proves effective in reducing speeders along that problem road, area drivers can expect to see more of the signs meant to remind drivers to slow down as they approach residential portions of the road.

City leaders have also created a safety awareness program to share among residents and are conducting a social media campaign through the town’s Facebook and Nextdoor pages. It provides information about the dangers of distracted driving and speeding and focuses on safety for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles.

Much of the increased concern about speeders in Oak Ridge, and on Haw River Road, came after the 2019 death of Noah Chambers, which was followed by the death of Aliyah Thornhill in 2022.   Chambers, an 11-year-old at the time of death, was hit by a driver while trick or treating. Thornhill, a 14-year-old, was struck and killed three years later – also while trick or treating.

To address the danger, the Oak Ridge Town Council voted to approve the placement of the new digital solar-powered radar sign on Haw River Road.

According to town officials, Oak Ridge will use data from the sign to determine its effectiveness and will consider adding similar signs at key spots in Oak Ridge.

A NC Department of Transportation speed study conducted of Oak Ridge earlier this year found drivers commonly speed through the largely non-residential areas west of Linville Road, and it also found that drivers typically slow down to an average of 45 mph as they approach the residential areas of Haw River Road.