Traffic calmingisn’t cheap. Even when choosing competitively priced solutions, slowing cars down can still get expensive. Is it really worth the price? While the cost of life is immeasurable, the economic cost is exorbitant. A study conducted by the NHTSA estimated the annual cost of car crashes at $242 billion. When quality of life was added in, the societal cost in one year rose to a whopping $836 billion.
TheAmerican Journal of Public Health stated it simply: managing speed is simply the best prevention against accidents and the injuries and fatalities they cause. The NHTSAfound that speeding contributes to a third of all fatal crashes. Barring constant round-the-clock police patrol, traffic calming is the only way to ensure that speeds are reduced and lives are saved.
Does Traffic Calming Really Help?
Children who live in neighborhoods with speed humpshave a 53-60% less chance of being injured or killed in a car accident. A case study on radar signs found that up to 70% of drivers slowed down when their speeds were displayed. Slower cars mean saved lives- studiesshow that a vehicle hitting a pedestrian at 40 mph is 80% likely to cause death while one travelling at 20mph is only 5% likely to.
Return on Investment
It can be hard to think of something as an investment when there are no dividends visible on a monthly statement. But traffic calming saves lives every day. One pilot program using Traffic Logix SafePace signsin Ecaudor found that 200 lives were saved in a one-year period after solutions were installed. The economic and societal cost of crashes is one that every town, city, and state contends with. Saving those lives is a sound investment.
On roads where speed limits change, it can be hard for drivers to remember, or keep track of different speed limits. Whether entering a school zone, an area where construction is taking place, or just moving from business to residential streets, drivers encounter shifting speed limits every day. Do they notice? No matter how prominently a speed limit sign is displayed, drivers may not notice changed limits, inadvertently putting children, workers, and pedestrians at risk.
How Are Speed Limits Decided?
The most obvious and most decisive aspect in deciding speed limits is safety. There is a simple statistical relationship between speed of vehicles and severity of crashes. In areas where pedestrians are more likely to be present, such as students walking to school, construction workers repaving a roadway, or children riding bikes outside their homes, lower speed limits can mean the difference between life and death. In addition, the speed of vehicles has been shown to be directly impacted by speed limits.
Making Sure People Notice
If speed limits are so crucial to driver and pedestrian safety, how can cities make sure they are more prominent so that drivers are more likely to notice them? Today’s distracted, electronically stimulateddrivers may not notice a changed speed limit sign on the side of the road. However, variable speed limit signs such as the SafePace 550 display speed limits in brightly lit LEDs, which are far more visually stimulating than simple black on white numbers.
What if They Miss it?
The digits on the SafePace 550 sign flash at drivers who exceed the selected speed limit. An included strobe light offers additional warning to speeders that the speed limit has changed. Signs can be programmed to display speed limits based on time of day, week, or month so that drivers always know exactly what the speed limit is. Simple to program and manage from anywhere via the SafePace Cloud, the SafePace 550 ensures that drivers are sure to notice and observespeed limits on your roads.
Unless you’re actively involved in school zone street safety or you’re a parent of school-age kids, there’s a good chance back to school hasn’t really crossed your mind. True, Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer but the weather is still hot, the calendar still reads summer, and not much changes in September for most adults. The truth is though, back to school applies to everyone.
All New Yorkers
A clever campaign by the NYPD reminds New Yorkers that back to school is for everyone. Even if you’re not a parent of young kids, chances are you drive through school zones and need to be alert to changing speed limits, increased foot traffic, and less observant (and smaller!) pedestrians. Avoiding distracting behaviors and being focused and alert behind the wheel becomes even more important as children head back to school.
Vision Zero and Back to School
Many cities across the country have issued written statements and safety sheets to help encourage drivers to improve safety with the increase in walking, biking, busing, and carpooling students on the roads. Awareness, coupled with traffic calming measures to slow cars down, can go a long way to improving safety on local streets. With car accidents a leading cause of death for young children in the US, it’s important for drivers to recognize that their choices behind the wheel can actually save a life.
Not Too Late
Even for cities where back to school didn’t go as safely as planned, it’s not too late to make a difference. Educational campaigns are a great tool to remind local drivers to be alert but physical, ongoing solutions arean important part of safe school zones. Whether speed humps or cushions to compel drivers to slow down or flashing beacons and speed display signs to remind them of lower speed limits, traffic calming solutions can help ensure that students are safe in school all year long.
Engineers, city officials, and regular ordinary people who walk or bike to their destinations, are helping to spread awareness of the need for complete streets. Unlike traditional US roadways that were designed with only the needs of cars and trucks, complete streets consider all users in their design, including those on foot or bikes. Whether that involves completely new design or retrofitting existing streets with new features, responsive roads are key to safety. Here are some facts you may not know about pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
1- Communities that encourage biking and walking are a high priority for the US Department of Transportation. These have been coined “livable communities,” and have the goal of providing safe transportation of all kinds to all its citizens.
2- FHWA has taken aggressive action to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians by providing free assistance to cities and states with the highest biker/walker fatality rates. Latest data on which areas are included can be seen on this map.
3. Most bike crashes take place in urban areas, between 6-9 pm, and not at intersections. Most bicyclists that are killed or injured are male and the average age has slowly inched upward over a 10 year period from 39 to 44.
4. Dedicated bike lanes really do make a difference. One study in New York found that injury rates fell significantly on roads where protected bike lanes were installed. In San Jose, CA, protected bike lane curbing is used to physically diverts vehicles from bike lanes.
5. Walking and biking are growing in popularity and are healthy for the body and the environment. However, since vehicles move so much faster than legs or bikes, pedestrians and cyclists are always at a disadvantage when sharing the road. Effective complete streets not only are responsive to the needs of all users but require effort from all as well. Safer streets certainly need better design such as walking or bike lanes and vehicle slowing measures such as speed humps, road narrowing, and speed display signs. However, most importantly, they need the care and concern of drivers, riders, and walkers to share the road with everyone who uses it.
As engineers and police departments work to craft and maintain safe roads, people are sometimes left wondering why certain laws exist. Does this road really need to be one way? Does every corner need a stop sign? Are these annoying speed humps actually serving any purpose? In most cases, traffic laws are there for a good reason but in some cases, they are actually pretty off the wall.
Crazy Traffic Laws
Some states have enacted laws that leave people scratching their heads. Some notable ones?
In Eureka, CA it’s illegal to sleep on the road
In GA, it is against the law to drive through a playground
In Sag Harbor, NY, it’s illegal to undress in your car
In West Virginia, it’s against the law to eat road kill
In CT, it’s illegal to shoot whales from your car
In UT, there are birds that have the right of way
In MA, it’s illegal to drive with a gorilla in the backseat
Method to the Madness
While outlawing using the road as a bed sounds preposterous, statistics on traffic safety and road accidents demonstrate that most traffic laws are enacted for a good reason. Lower speed limits on residential roads are not just arbitrary, they can actually save lives. One Swedish study found that after reducing speed limits, traffic fatalities were reduced even several years down the line. Keeping traffic moving at a safe, steady pace on residential roads can make the difference between a narrowly diverted accident and an untimely death.
Enacting appropriate speed limits is a great start but many studies find that speed limits alone do little to curb speeding drivers. Speed limits in conjunction with enforcement measures, however, can be powerful in creating safer roads and neighborhoods. Using speed limits in conjunction with road narrowing, speed humps, or speed indicator signscan ensure that the laws on your streets not only make sense but are adhered to.
Every season has its own energy and each brings its own beauty to the landscape around us. In turn, each presents unique challenges for safe driving, riding, and walking on local streets. From summer beach-traffic clogged roadways to autumn leaf covered lanes, and from snowy winter streets to wet spring pavement, every season’s roads are unique. The FHWA reports over 1 million crashes caused each year by weather related road conditions. Being aware of what to be careful for and what nature, and other drivers, have in store, can help you protect your roads, no matter the season.
Everyone knows winter drivingcan be tough. Snow, ice, and slushy pavement cause 44% of weather-related crashes. Even savvy winter drivers with well equipped cars have to share the roads with many others who aren’t. Autumn brings changing weather, wet road surfaces, heavy winds, shorter daylight hours, and more student pedestrians and cyclists headed to and from school while spring often means wet or even slushy pavement. Rain causes 46% of weather related crashes while wet pavement causes a whopping 73% of such accidents. No season offers foolproof driving.
Just when Mother Nature’s surprises seem to have subsided and beautiful sunny summer days lie ahead, new challenges are in store for drivers. More drivers are on the roads during the summer than any other months, increasing the probability of any one person being involved in an accident. In fact, July and August are among the highest of the year for fatal crashes. Perhaps part of the cause of this is that nature offers little traffic calming in the summer. In the fall, spring, and winter, the rain, slippery roads, and snow remind drivers of their limitations. In summer, when anything seems possible, caution can fall to the wayside.
Keeping People Safe and Aware
No matter the weather conditions and the traffic calming that nature has in mind, it’s the responsibility of cities to engineer roads that encourage safe driving. Whether that involves narrower roads, bicycle lanes, speed humps, or traffic circles, roads that are designed for slow driving are more likely to be safe for all those who use them.
Solutions such as speed display signs can be powerful tools to remind drivers to slow down and be alert to weather issues, or other temporary concerns, that may affect the safety of their drive. Mother nature can be fickle. Road safety shouldn’t be.
In the leading Japanese car manufacturing plants in Canada, a new car is driven off the lot every minute. Each car is meticulously crafted and fastidiously tested to ensure that it meets the company’s superior standard for car production. However, there was no system in place to ensure that the cars were treated with the same level of car once they were driven out of the plant to the holding area. The company needed a system that could monitor vehicle speeds so that the cars got the same level of care once they left the facility’s doors.
Extending Excellence Beyond the Plant
The SafePace 100 compact speed display sign offered the leading car manufacturer a unique solution to their needs. By using the signs at their Canadian plants, the company is able to monitor vehicle speeds, confirm whether posted speed limits are being adhered to, access real time data on driving behaviors and patterns, and alert team members as soon as an issue is detected. The SafePace Cloud lets the company access the robust software interface from any device at any time to monitor, review, and report possible lapses in vehicle handling.
Safer Vehicle Operation
The full-featured SafePace 100 signs offer the company just what it needs for safer vehicle operation at their manufacturing plants. Some of the sign highlights include the light enhancing, anti glare LEDs that show team members their speeds in bright, highly visible digits; the ability to program the speeds at which the digits and/or built-in strobe flash to warn drivers; up to the minute statistics on driver behavior; stealth mode to collect driver data while it appears to be off; and the portable, lightweight design that allows the signs to be used at different locations throughout the plant.
The new program extends the high standards of the car manufacturing plant beyond the production process. The signs reinforced what the company already knew- that most employees were handling the brand new vehicles with the meticulous care they expected. However, in instances where drivers were exceeding threshold speeds as they transport the vehicles, the management can now conduct intervention immediately to curtail the behavior and compel improvement. The Traffic Logix speed display signs have been met with enthusiasm at the plant as they continue to build on the company’s protocol of excellence.