Safe Routes Scoop

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast
Reducing Automobile Travel Speeds

observe the legal speed limit, stop for pedestrians and drive cautiously, thereby becoming a “pace” car that other drivers must follow. These actions can help generate awareness of pedestrians and bicyclists, and reduce traffic speeds. For more information visit:

http://www.ci.santa-cruz.ca.us/pw/

npcp/npcp.html


Engineering

A community can help reduce speeding by improving its roadway and pedestrian infrastructure. Traffic calming is the term used to describe a method of street design that encourages motorists to drive more slowly. Common strategies include:

  • devices such as speed humps and tables, raised crosswalks and raised intersections which encourage drivers to travel more slowly
  • crossing treatments such as curb extensions and pedestrian refuge islands/medians to limit the amount of time that pedestrians need to be in the street
  • diverters such as mini-circles that reduce speed and/or direct traffic from some locations

Once in place, these strategies can provide effective and permanent benefits reducing speeds. However, these kinds of projects require substantial effort to plan, design and implement. In addition, infrastructure improvements can take several years and require significant amounts of funding. More information about traffic calming can be found at:

http://www.walkinginfo.org/

engineering/calming.cfm.

 

Signage

Many residents request additional signage to help reduce speeding. Increased use of stop signs and/or traffic lights work in some situations, but may be only somewhat effective as drivers often ignore signals. Permanent street signs are eventually disregarded by drivers who become used to seeing them all the time,

or they get lost in the clutter when many signs occupy the same space. Deployment of permanent or temporary “Your Speed” radar-enabled signs, such as those found in EZ-Pass toll lanes, can be a more effective way to get drivers to watch their speed. The City of Garfield installed permanent feedback signs at eight public schools and one parochial school in 2005. In Burlington County, permanent “Your Speed” signs near schools are turned on by school administrators during school hours and left off on evenings and weekends.

 

Evaluation
Evaluation is an ongoing process involving monitoring outcomes and documenting trends through data collection both before and after your speed control program has been implemented. These pre- and post-intervention speed studies will help to determine if the speed control program has been effective in reducing speed and what changes may be necessary for the program to expand and remain successful into the future.

Even with all of these strategies, it is important to continually reinforce the message about the need to slow down. Any campaign to reduce speeds should be reinvigorated every few months by reminding all motorists of the importance of slowing down. We all can play a role in this effort—starting with slowing down ourselves.

 

Sources

Success Stories – “Burlington County Engineers Work with Local Schools.”

 

NJ DOT Resolution, Application, and Agreement for State Aid to Counties and Municipalities – “(Garfield) City-Wide School Safety Program – Phase III”

 

United Kingdom Department of Environment and Transportation, “Killing Speed & Saving Lives.” London, England, 1997. (from Mean Streets 2002, Surface Transportation Policy Partnership)

 

Donna Cioffi – Chairperson of Bergen County Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 Chapter

 

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