Can positive stimuli improve driver behaviour?

Leon Ebbelaar
City of Melville

Melville, like everywhere, has many streets where residents complain about the speed of drivers. When 85th percentile speeds are 10km/hr or more above the posted speed limit traffic data is sent to the Police who consider using speed cameras to moderate speeds.

However we have many more streets where drivers are travelling between 1 and 9 km/hr above the speed limit causing concern for residents but not enough to trigger attention from the Police.

Speeding drivers impact on how residents use the street and has serious implications for road safety. A study of Western Australian car crashes showed that 32% of pedestrians killed would have survived if the driver was driving just five kilometres an hour slower, and one person in 10 would not have not been hit at all! (Source: Office of Road Safety

The 'Safe Speed Check' signs have an inbuilt radar allowing the sign to display each drivers individual speed, a corresponding smiley face or a frowny face and a reminder of the posted speed.

For engineering staff the Safe Speed Check signs record 2 speeds for each vehicle that passes. The V1 speed is recorded when the vehicle first enters the radar beam and a second V2 speed is recorded when the vehicle is adjacent to the sign after the driver has responded to the sign.

Like getting a sticker at school for good behaviour it seems that as adult drivers we still respond to positive stimul and reminders! Drivers can be seen to be reducing their speed to match the speed limit while the signs are in operation.

Currently signs are operating on Preston Pt Rd, Bull Creek Dve and Bateman Rd. In a few months we’ll relocate them to three new locations on some of our ‘speedier’ streets. The footings will stay in place and be re-used as needed.

The signs quantify driver speed reductions and we will also do speed / traffic counts along the roads while the signs are in place and after they have been removed to see if there is a residual effect on driver speeds after the signs have been removed. Typically we have been getting a reduction in 85th percentile speeds of around 4km/hr.

Already the signs have been valuable in terms of managing resident expectations for vehicle speeds in their street. At around $6,000 installed the signs are cost effective. If they prove to be effective in the long term there is the potential to replace traditional Local Area Traffic Management - being more cost-effective than chicanes / roundabouts and more palatable than speed cushions.

We’ll continue investigations however the Safe Speed Check signs appear to be doing a good job to date............. and we have ordered 2 more!

This story is related to Special contribution to a project

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Kylie (Your Move)

Hi Leon, Slowing down traffic is key to creating streets for people. People who are walking or on a bike retreat from high speed traffic zones and feel safer and more welcome in low speed zones. Good on Melville for reminding drivers to go slow.

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