You are not alone if speeding drivers in your neighborhood are making you frustrated and concerned for your safety. Speeding in residential areas is now the most common citizen complaint issued to police departments and city council representatives. In many communities, a once leisurely walk down the block or playing with your child or pet in the front yard now requires you to be on high-alert.
Pedestrians, parents, homeowners and homeowner associations (HOAs) are searching for a way to make their communities safer. But short of sticking a law enforcement officer at each street corner, is there a “perfect” solution to reduce speeding?
Utilizing tools and strategies to control traffic and create a safer environment is generally referred to as traffic calming. However, not all traffic calming solutions are created equal. The options, which include speed humps, driver feedback/radar speed signs, permanents road alterations, static signs and more, vary dramatically in their cost and effectiveness.
We’ve consolidated a list of factors to consider in your search for a traffic calming solution for your community.
1. Hazards and nuisances… Could the traffic calming solution have any negative effects?
When considering how to slow down drivers, there is nothing more straightforward than changing the road or adjusting traffic flow to force drivers to slow down—usually done through the use of speed humps/bumps in communities. However, you might be surprised to learn that opposition is often very high and they are becoming increasingly less popular.
Though a common traffic calming tactic, studies show that speed humps are not as effective as you might think. Often drivers forced to slow down with speed humps actually increase their speed between each hump to make up for lost time. Additionally, speed humps cause damage to cars that travel over them daily. Probably the biggest deterrent is that they require all cars to dramatically slow down, even those following the speed limits and emergency vehicles.
2. The psychology… What works and what doesn’t?
When evaluating traffic calming solutions that don’t force drivers to slow, it comes down to the psychology of what works to coerce a driver to “let off the pedal.” The most common approach is to try various types of road signs, including the very recognizable flag-holding, green plastic figure alerting drivers to “SLOW.” They are easy and affordable, but how effective are these signs?
Unfortunately, static road signs like the green figure or a typical speed limit sign are some of the least effective options because of the way a driver’s brain works. Drivers get desensitized and tune out elements that we drive by on a regular basis. Similarly, traditional signs are also unlikely to grab the attention of a distracted driver.
To be most effective, signs must continuously catch the attention of drivers that are either desensitized or distracted. Driver-feedback signs–or radar speed signs–show personalized speed data for each vehicle in large, bright and flashing numbers. This technology has been shown to be highly effective at getting drivers to slow down.
3. Cost…Have all of the costs involved with each traffic calming solution been considered?
One of the most pressing factors when selecting a solution will always be cost. Product and installation costs are usually thought of as the determining factors, but there are other hidden costs to consider such as maintenance and time. The expenditures for the product, its installation and its maintenance usually determine whether the solution will be self-funded or government-funded.
No matter how the option is funded, you also need to consider the time costs. Most residents want to fix their speeder problem immediately, but some solutions have time-consuming hurdles to overcome.
Traditional radar signs or speed humps are expensive options that will require funding from your municipality. You will need to do your homework on local processes to put the desired solution into motion. Once initiated, you will be at the mercy of the government’s timeline and priorities. It can easily become a waiting game. Often municipalities require traffic studies, hearings, budget approvals and there is the potential for community pushback. Once approved, constructing and installing permanent road alterations can cause roadway disruptions for months.
Static signs appear to be the best solution for quick implementation and overall costs, but they are not durable. Online reviews–found where these signs are most commonly purchased—reveal that many consumers have experienced their sign becoming damaged. These flimsy, plastic signs may need to be replaced frequently, making their initial cheap cost an ongoing expense.
Putting it all together
It can be head-spinning to choose the ultimate traffic calming solution when there are so many options to consider and so many factors to balance such as cost, effectiveness and implementation time. Aside from price, radar speed signs seem to be the best option; they offer proven effectiveness without the negative impact to non-speeders, infrastructure and cars.
Despite clear benefits, these signs have traditionally been too expensive for the consumer market. However, a new re-packaging of radar speed sign technology at a much lower price point is now an available option. The new Speed Patrol driver feedback sign offers an affordable option without compromising effectiveness; arming homeowners with a tool previously available only to municipalities. With pedestrian accidents at a 25-year time high, putting more solutions in the hands of citizens could be just what is needed to make neighborhood streets safer.
Click here to learn more about Speed Patrol and it’s capabilities for neighborhood applications.