Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses to Speeding in Residential Areas

The table below summarizes the responses to speeding in residential areas, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they should work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

Engineering Responses
Response No. Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
1 Using traffic calming Makes it more difficult for vehicles to speed, or makes drivers believe they should slow down for safety road and environment changes are made in compliance with recommended specifications, the affected public supports the changes, and potential negative impacts are considered and minimized Some changes to the environment require high capital expenditures; cost-effectiveness must be considered over the long term
2 Posting warning signs and signals Encourages drivers to slow down by reminding them of the speed limit and calling their attention to hazards on the road ahead ...the signs or signals stand out from other road signage, they convey the reason for the reduced speed, and they are supplemented by police enforcement Where there are many other signs and sights competing for drivers' attention, it is not easy to get drivers to notice speed warnings
3 Blending motor and non-motor vehicle uses of public space through urban design Reduces the traditional separation between motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians, greatly reducing motorists' speed ...urban planners have the funds to change urban design, and drivers are willing to reduce their speed Some jurisdictions may not have the funds to change urban design; some drivers may still refuse to adhere to posted speed limits
Education Responses
Response No. Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
4 Conducting anti-speeding public awareness campaigns Intended to change the social acceptability of speeding ...campaigns are carefully tailored for various target audiences (e.g., commuters, young male drivers) Effects are usually not immediate and substantial; the messages need not be overtly accusatory, but may convey facts about the dangers and consequences of speeding to debunk myths about speed and driving
5 Informing complainants about actual speeds Improves complainants' understanding of the exact nature of the problem ...you suspect that complaints are exaggerated or unrealistic Proving that vehicles are traveling the speed limit does not necessarily mean that speeds are appropriate for conditions, but might suggest that responses other than enforcement are more appropriate
6 Providing realistic driver training Helps drivers better appreciate speed's effects on their ability to control a vehicle ...drivers can actually feel speed's effects on their driving skills Requires skilled instructors, special safety equipment and protected driving areas
Enforcement Responses
Response No. Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
7 Enforcing speeding laws Increases drivers' risks of being stopped ...drivers believe it will occur, it has meaningful costs to offenders, police apply it generally rather than only at specific times and locations, and drivers are not tipped off by cues as to when enforcement is or is not happening Requires a lot of resources initially to change drivers' perceived risks of getting stopped; giving the public advance notice must be balanced against not allowing drivers to anticipate where and when enforcement is occurring; expensive to do consistently
8 Enforcing speeding laws with speed cameras Significantly increases the level of speed monitoring and enforcement, thus increasing drivers' perceptions of the risk of getting caught speeding, and serving as a deterrent ...camera placement is not too obvious, and locations are changed periodically Drivers slow down when they know they are approaching a speed camera, but quickly speed up once they have passed it; some strong public concerns exist about invasions of privacy and absence of personal interaction in enforcement; usually requires special legislative authorization for cameras' use as evidence in prosecution; financial issues exist related to fees and uses of fine revenue
9 Using speed display boards Encourages drivers to slow down by measuring vehicle speeds and prominently displaying them ...a high percentage of drivers speed inadvertently, and police enforcement supplements the speed display boards Unattended speed display boards are vulnerable to vandalism
10 Arresting the worst offenders Helps change the common belief that speeding is not a serious offense ...sufficient public support exists May require special legislative and policy authorization
11 Having citizen volunteers monitor speeding Enhances informal social disapproval of speeding ...citizens directly affected by the speeding participate Citizens must be properly trained for the specific tasks
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
Response No. Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
12 Reducing speed limits Intended to slow drivers' speeds through posted signs and police enforcement ...adequate levels of police enforcement exist Reducing speed limits by itself will reduce average speeds only by small amounts; some speed limits are too low rather than too high, inviting disrespect for them; police should conduct careful speed studies before changing speed limits
13 Increasing fines and penalties Creates meaningful consequences for speeders, thereby deterring all drivers, generally, and those cited, specifically ...the fines and penalties are set high enough to get drivers' attention, but not so high as to compromise public support for them Beyond a certain threshold, higher fines and penalties do not continue to reduce speeds
14 Erecting stop signs     The effects are to increase speeds mid-block and increase noise from vehicle acceleration
15 Installing speed bumps or rumble strips     They do not reduce speeds directly, but merely warn drivers of hazards ahead
16 Reengineering vehicles Technological devices can restrict vehicles' maximum speed, automatically notify authorities that vehicles are speeding, or trigger warning signals to drivers when they are speeding ...consumers are willing to accept this technology and pay for it To date, few vehicles or roads are equipped with this technology, and public support for it is not yet certain