Community speed watch

Speed detection device in place within a community

Community Speed Watch is a scheme to 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.

Effectiveness

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 deterrent 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.

Reducing vehicle speeds increases safety because:

  • The vehicle has travelled a shorter distance by the time a driver can react to a hazard
  • Braking distance is reduced, so the vehicle can stop more quickly before a hazard
  • Higher speed crashes tend to result in higher severity injuries
Advantages Disadvantages
  • Volunteer run, with no cost to the Partnership
  • Equipment and training provided by Cambridgeshire Constabulary
  • Community engagement in speeding issues is a different way of changing driver behaviour
  • 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

Restrictions

  • Volunteers must only operate at sites approved by the Police
  • Volunteers can only operate in daylight hours

Cost

Equipment £3,000
Total£3,000

More information from the Police

You can get more information on Community Speed Watch on the Cambridgeshire Constabulary website


Mobile Vehicle-Activated Signs (MVAS)

Slow down illuminated speed sign

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.

Effectiveness

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 Disadvantages
  • 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
  • Not as effective as vertical interventions
  • Too many of these devices could diminish their effectiveness

Considerations

  • Parish/Town Council’s would be required to maintain and relocate the signs going forward in accordance with Cambridgeshire’s Highway Improvement Asset Management Plan (HIAMP).
  • 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

Equipment £3,000 - £4,500
Works £1,000 - £2,500
Total£4,000 - £7,000
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.


Speed Limits and Buffer Zones

There are three national speed limits which include 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.

Effectiveness

Changing the speed limit and introducing nothing but a change in sign is highly unlikely to ensure compliance by the general driver unless the road and highway environment is amended.  Speed limits should be ‘self-explaining’ or ‘self-enforcing’.  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 (self-explaining).  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 (self-enforcing).

Speed limiting options include:

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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
Buffer Zones
  • They can be up to 400 metres in length, set at a minimum of 10mph above the settlement speed limit.
Advantages Disadvantages
  • Relatively cheap
  • Nationally recognised signing
  • No discomfort experienced by any vehicle user
  • 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

Restrictions

Cost

Equipment £2,000 - £10,000
Works £1,500 - £5,000
Traffic Regulation Order £1,000
Total£4,500 - £16,000
Costs vary depending on location, number of accesses and the number of signs required

Gateways

Gateways and speed signs entering village

 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.

Effectiveness

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.

Design

  • 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 Disadvantages
  • 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
  • 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

Considerations

  • 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.
  • Requires a Road Safety Audit

Cost

Equipment £1,700 - £3,000
Works £800 - £1,500
Road Safety Audit £1,500
Total£4,000 - £6,000
Costs include village welcome signs and gates. Costs vary depending on location and size of verge.

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