Community speed watch
A Community Speed Watch scheme allow volunteers to monitor the speed of passing vehicles using a speed detection device.
The volunteers record the details of vehicles which are exceeding the speed limit. These details are passed to the Police, who will issue a letter to the vehicle owner, advising them of the dangers of speeding, and reminding them of the law. If three letters are issued to the same vehicle owner, the Police carry out further investigation.
As Community Speed Watch volunteers are highly visible and make use of a speed detection device, it is usually clear to vehicle drivers their speed is being monitored. This may be enough for many motorists to slow down. Some motorists may mistake the volunteers for police officers.
The ‘community’ element of Community Speed Watch could have a more positive effect on some vehicle driver’s attitudes compared to engineering schemes.
Community Speed Watch may only reduce vehicle speeds when the volunteers are present at the road side. However, there should be a significant effect on vehicle drivers who receive letters as a result of exceeding the speed limit. Other drivers may continue to reduce their speeds at all times, as they might expect Speed Watch to return to the same place, or appear in another area.
Advantages of community speed watch
- Volunteer run
- Equipment and training provided by Cambridgeshire Constabulary
- Community engagement in speeding issues is a different way of changing driver behaviour
Disadvantages of community speed watch
- Drivers can’t be fined if they are recorded exceeding the speed limit
- Drivers may be aware the Community Speed Watch groups can’t issue fines, and will continue to exceed the speed limit
- Requires willing community volunteers to offer their time
- Volunteers must only operate at sites approved by the Police
- Volunteers can only operate in daylight hours
Cost of equipment
Equipment = £3,000 - £5,000
More information from the Police
You can get more information on Community Speedwatch on the Cambridgeshire Constabulary Speedwatch website.
Mobile vehicle activated signs
Mobile Vehicle-activated signs (MVAS) are an electronic sign which only become visible when approaching motor vehicles are exceeding a certain speed. The signs normally display the speed limit, however they can also display the actual speed on the sign and these are called Speed Indicating Devices (SID).
MVAS are formed of many bright lights which only turn on when the target motor vehicle is in plain view of the sign.
MVAS have a short-lived effectiveness in reducing speeds. Unfortunately drivers become too familiar with them when they are situated in one particular location for long periods of time. Can be most effective when positioned near downhill gradients reminding drivers who may be inadvertently speeding.
When MVAS are relocated regularly around different parts of the village or town this can increase effectiveness as drivers will be unaware of where the sign will be next time they travel.
Advantages of mobile vehicle activated signs
- No discomfort or delay experienced by any vehicle user.
- Relatively cheap.
- Continue to have a positive effect over time if relocated regularly.
- Moving between different sites can increase effectiveness.
Disadvantages of mobile vehicle activated signs
- Not as effective as vertical interventions.
- Too many of these devices could diminish their effectiveness.
- Parish/Town Council’s would be required to maintain and relocate the signs going forward in accordance with Cambridgeshire’s Highway Asset Management Policy.
- Location of the MVAS needs careful consideration as light pollution can cause concerns with residents
- MVAS must be placed on a straight stretch of road to allow the radar device to accurately judge the speed of approaching motor vehicles
Cost of installation
Equipment = £3,000 - £4,500
Works = £1,000 - £2,500
Total = £4,000 - £7,000
Please note that costs above are to supply the MVAS, associated mounted equipment, spare batteries, and supply and install a number of posts for the device to be moved around.
We recognise that MVAS can be a popular speed educational tool. Should you wish to apply for permission to use them on the highway please complete this application form and return by post to the address specified or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will be required to agree to a Memorandum of Understanding to make sure the sign's correct use on the highway.
Speed limits and buffer zones
There are three national speed limits; 30mph on roads with street lighting, national speed limit of 60mph on single carriageway roads and national speed limit of 70mph on dual carriageways and motorways. These national limits are not appropriate for all roads.
The speed limit regime enables traffic authorities, like Cambridgeshire, to set local speed limits in situations where local needs and conditions suggest a speed limit which is different from the standard national speed limit. Buffer zones are becoming ever popular around Cambridgeshire and generally offer a short section of 40mph approaching a village or town’s 30mph limit. This can help to ensure that a driver is travelling more slowly on the approach to the lower limit.
Changing the speed limit and introducing nothing but a change in sign is very unlikely to ensure driver compliance on its own. If all speed limit signage were taken away, the driver should instinctively know what the speed limit is from the environment: a driver will choose different speeds for a rural road through open countryside and a built up road through a town centre.
Alternatively, the road environment should be such that higher speeds are difficult to achieve because of the nature of the road, e.g. traffic calming is present.
Speed limit options available
20mph speed limit / zone
- Only considered in areas where the mean speed of traffic is 24mph or lower.
- Considered in areas with high traffic calming or other measures that ensure self-enforcement.
30mph speed limit / zone
- Will only be introduced in fully developed settlements. Term settlement means 20 properties fronting onto a length of public highway over a distance of at least 600m.
40mph speed limit / zone
- Generally introduced on the outskirts of urban areas where there is little development and few vulnerable road users.
- Areas of development will generally be set back from the road
50mph speed limit / zone
- Considered for lower quality roads that have a relatively high number of bends, junctions and accesses.
- Also considered where the mean speeds are below 50mph, therefore lower limit doesn’t interfere with traffic flow.
- They can be up to 400 metres in length, set at a minimum of 10mph above the settlement speed limit.
Advantages of speed limits and buffer zones
- Relatively cheap
- Nationally recognised signing
- No discomfort experienced by any vehicle user
Disadvantages of speed limits and buffer zones
- Not as effective as vertical interventions
- Effectiveness can be diminished if incorrect limit is installed
- Cost increases when additional measures are required
- Reduction in enforcement can reduce effectiveness
- An inappropriately low speed limit can lead to an increase in poorly judged overtaking and related accidents
- An inappropriately low speed limit is likely to result in speeding issues
- All speed limits must have the full support from the Police.
- All speed limits must comply with Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways Asset Management policy
- Requires a Traffic Regulation Order
Cost of installation
Equipment = £2,000 - £10,000
Works = £1,500 - £5,000
Traffic Regulation Order = £1,000
Total cost = £4,500 - £16,000
Please note that costs vary depending on the location, number of accesses and the number of signs required.
Gateways are designed to highlight the entrance to a Parish, Town or Village and/or change of speed limit. In Cambridgeshire the most common method is through installing gates and village name plates at the entrances to villages, often in combination with the speed limit terminal sign.
Drivers tend to notice and accept the distinction between the two speed limits when there is a more obvious presence on the entrance.
The speed reducing effect is highest when gateways are first installed. Many drivers subconsciously adjust their speed according to the surroundings, driving more slowly in built up areas and faster in rural areas with open fields. A gateway feature signals that a driver is leaving a higher speed area and entering residential area. However, the benefit can reduce over time as drivers become used to them.
These gates are made from a blend of wood fibre, recycled thermoplastics and adhesive resins. They give the appearance of wood with all the longevity of plastic so they will not rot or require varnishing or painting.
Advantages of gateways
- Deliniates the extents of the village and highlights a change of speed limit
- Relatively cheap to install
- Gates come in different sizes to suit most locations
Disadvantages of gateways
- Not as effective as a system of vertical treatments
- Any speed reducing effect could be localised to the village boundary area, for the reduction to be maintained additional measures through the village will be required
- The benefit can reduce over time
- These gate features will become the parish / town council’s asset and Cambridgeshire County Council will not maintain or replace them.
- Sizes of gates will be restricted by the width available in the verge.
- A Road Safety Audit will only be required if carriageway widths need to change (for example if the road needs to be narrowed)
Cost of installation
Equipment = £1,700 - £3,000
Works = £800 - £1,500
Total cost = £2,500 - £4,500
Please note that costs per pair include village welcome signs and gates. Costs vary depending on the location and size of the verge.