There’s a common misconception that speed laws and police officers are out to get drivers, conspiring to slap them with tickets they don’t deserve. In fact, speed laws are enacted to keep people safe and are carefully calculated taking each street’s environment in mind. Police officers far prefer that drivers obey laws and drive safely than ticket them for speeding. For that reason, speed trailers and display signs are rapidly growing as a tool for police departments to educate drivers and remind them to slow down.
Why Bother Educating?
Effective traffic calming, that is slowing of vehicles to safe speeds, almost always involves the three Es- Education, Engineering, and Enforcing. Simply ticketing drivers may be revenue-producing but that’s not the end goal of police departments. Educating drivers is the first, and most important, step to safer roads. Billboards and educational campaigns are effective ways to educate while speed trailers have the advantage of catching drivers in the moment as well as the ability to personalize messages to each driver.
How Speed Trailers Educate
Speed display signs provide a multi-pronged approach to driver education. They are mounted along with speed limit signs so that drivers see a comparison of the posted speed limit and their own speeds. Speeds are displayed highly visible LED digits so that drivers are aware of what their speeds are. Both the digits and the sign strobes can flash at drivers who exceed set speeds to alert them that they are speeding. Many signs also offer the option to display driver responsive messaging such as “Slow Down” or “Too Fast”.
Is Education Enough?
For most drivers, the reminder that they need to slow down is sufficient to change behaviors and encourage safer speeds. In fact, studies have shown that most drivers, as many as 70%, do slow down at radar signs. However, a well-rounded, effective traffic calming program should also take Engineering and Enforcement into account. Engineering can be done with street narrowing or physical devices such as speed humps or lane separators while enforcement is something every city has its own approach to.