Radar speed signs slow drivers down by making them more aware of their speed. Signs alerting drivers that they are exceeding the speed limit are a proven traffic calming measure. The content that follows examines three reasons for the effectiveness of radar speed signs.
1- Aids First Responders
Citizens commonly complain to law enforcement about a road or street where extra speed abatement measures are needed. Information on driver behavior in an area is relayed from radar speed signs to a central database. A police department then uses the data collected to determine where a focus on speed control is most needed.
Radar speed signs are more first responder friendly than speed bumps. Each time a fire engine, ambulance or police car slows down for a speed bump, 10-seconds is added to their response time. Radar signs save first responders time when time matters the most.
2- Saves Lives And Money
When a vehicle traveling 40 mph strikes a pedestrian, the pedestrian has a 10% chance of survival compared to a 50% chance of living if impact occurs at 30 mph. Reduce the vehicle speed to 20 mph, and the pedestrian’s likelihood of surviving increases to 90%. Studies have shown that radar speed signs are 80% effective in slowing speeding drivers.
The installation of a radar speed sign on a road where the percentage of speeders exceeded 80 has reduced the incidence of speeding on that road by one-quarter. In some areas, a 3.5% yearly decrease in speeds has been credited to radar speed signs.
If the speed limit in an area changes, a municipality or business incurs an extra cost to repaint or replace a non-electronic speed limit sign. The ability to remotely reprogram a radar speed sign saves material and labor costs.
Portable radar signs that fit in any vehicle make it possible to use a single sign to study rates of speed in multiple areas. As effective as the presence of a patrol car for slowing speeders, radar speed signs free officers for other duties allowing police departments to better utilize their operating budget.
3- Driver Response
When a motorist sees their rate of speed on a radar sign the brain triggers a feedback loop. Feedback loops enable the learning of acceptable behavior. Simply put, seeing their rate of travel on a sign provides feedback that causes the driver to modify their behavior. Behavioral adjustments prompted by a radar speed sign give people a sense of satisfaction.
When we routinely see an object, e.g., a speed limit sign, our brain will shut that object out so it effectively becomes invisible to us. Each time a driver approaches a radar sign it will be at a different rate of speed. The result is an ever-changing sign that the mind won’t ignore because the placard has become routine or ordinary.
As both are responsible for an almost equal number of vehicular fatalities, distracted driving has been termed the new drunk driving. The sight of their rate of travel displayed on a radar speed sign returns a distracted driver’s focus to the safe operation of their automobile.