Many communities across Leeds are concerned about the speed of traffic in their local area and in some cases it has a significant effect on their quality of life. To help address this problem, The Influencing Travel Behaviour (ITB) Team have developed a “Community Speed Awareness” scheme that has already been used with good effect in several localities across the district.
Under this scheme, members of community groups can now receive training and borrow a radar activated Speed Indicator Device (SID) for a period of up to two weeks. This proactive approach has been has been welcomed within communities, as it allows them to use their local knowledge to target specific ‘problem’ areas.
Speed Indicator devices (SID) measure the speed of approaching vehicles, typically with radar, and display the measured speed and a smiley or frowning face. They can be temporary or permanent installations, used at speed-sensitive locations to reduce vehicle speed. SID are not intended to directly enforce speed limits, but rather to inform motorists and modify their driving behaviour, either when approaching a danger zone or to generally comply with the speed limit.
To support community groups who are using SID we have wheelie bin stickers, leaflets and temporary correx street lighting placards that are available as part of the scheme. As part of the training on SID we will go over the rules regarding placement of the correx signs and how long they can be in place.
Because it flashes up vehicle speed and either a smiling or frowning face, the SID is an excellent awareness raising tool and is particularly effective at targeting drivers whose speed has crept up due to lack of attention or awareness of their surroundings. Allowing drivers to see their current speed enables them to correct it or reduce it to a more acceptable level.
If you are a member of a Community Group and would like to participate in this scheme, or require further information, please contact the road safety section of the ITB team on 0113 3787306 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some frequently asked questions!
Does SID work?
Primarily, SID is a device which provides members of the local community with the opportunity to address anti-social behaviour and influence motorists’ style of driving through education.
SID is particularly beneficial when tackling the casual or unintentional speeder who, through a lack of attention or awareness, may not have realised that they are driving too fast or breaking the speed limit. SID notifies them of their speed and helps to make them more aware of potential hazards in the area and the appropriate speed at which they should be travelling.
A yearlong evaluation in Dorset showed that speed reduction was achieved where SIDs were activated. Speeds of more than 325,000 vehicles were recorded following 70 deployments at 35 sites and results revealed that the average speed decrease was 5.26mph when compared with average speeds before deployment. A similar, but smaller scale survey carried out in Leeds at two locations during 2005 backs up this evidence, showing that where SIDs were deployed there was a noticeable reduction in the speed of traffic.
Can speeding drivers be prosecuted?
Drivers found speeding when the SID is as part of the Community Speed Awareness Scheme cannot be prosecuted. Only the police using type approved ‘pro laser’ equipment or safety cameras can be used to prosecute speeding drivers. Use of the SID is designed to raise drivers’ awareness of speed and inappropriate speed and allow them to correct it to more appropriate levels.
Why do I have to be a member of a ‘Community Group’?
We ask that volunteers represent a group such as a tenants and residents association or Parish Council in order that the broader feelings of the community can be represented, rather than the feelings of one individual. It also means that there will be more volunteers on hand to operate the SID when deployed at the selected survey sites.
Can I get support from the Police?
Yes – If you feel that you would benefit from support from your local Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) you can request this by following the link below. Please note that support is not guaranteed and it is dependent on the work load of local officers within your area.
Why can’t we have a permanently fixed SID sign?
Although SIDs are effective at reducing vehicle speeds, studies have also shown that as, over a period of time, drivers become accustomed to the sign their speed slowly increases. This is known as the ‘novelty’ effect or ‘sign blindness’. Because SIDs loaned through the Community Speed Awareness scheme can be moved to a number of different locations within a community and set to work on roads with different speed limits, they help to reduce the likelihood of drivers developing sign blindness and are an effective awareness raising tool.
Speed Indicator Devices (SIDs) suitable for fixing to street lighting columns are not provided through the Community Speed Awareness Scheme. Although you may have seen SIDs fixed to street lighting columns in other areas, it will have been purchased either by Ward Members, Parish Councils or Community Groups. The Highway Authority has simply facilitated the installation of the equipment, ensuring its’ safe and appropriate positioning on the public highway.
If you feel that a fixed SID is more appropriate for your local area, then you should contact your local ward members / parish/town council in the first instance to try and ascertain whether funding may be available.
Why doesn’t SID record data or number plates?
SID has not been designed to automatically collect data for you, the idea of the using the equipment via the Community Speed Awareness Scheme is to educate drivers about the speed at which they should be travelling on roads in your local area , to raise motorists’ awareness in a positive way and to allow them to adjust their speed accordingly.
Can we record our own data?
In some instances you may find it beneficial to record your own data. This can be used for your own information, or in certain cases be passed on to the local police or the council. As the aim of the initiative is designed to raise awareness in a positive way, we would not recommend taking down number plates or even individual vehicle speeds except in exceptional circumstances. Data tends to be most useful when recorded in tally or tick form on a simple chart.
If you wish to request speed or traffic volume surveys on a stretch of road please speak to your local councilor who will be able to support your application.
Why does SID have an upper speed threshold?
SID has an upper threshold limit set 15mph above the official speed limit of the road where it is being used. This is to minimise the chance that a minority of individuals may see the device as a target to see how fast they can travel though the area, using the roads as a race track.
How do we know that the machine is accurate?
Smiley SIDs rely on radar technology and are regularly calibrated. This means that the machines remain fully accurate when placed at the roadside.
Why can’t I leave the lamp post signs up permanently?
There are two main reasons why the lamp post signs must not be left up permanently:
- Leaving the signs up permanently can mean that drivers using the route regularly develop ‘sign blindness’, thus reducing the effectiveness of the signs.
- There are certain legal requirements that must be adhered to when placing signs adjacent to roads. The ITB Team have sought approval from the relevant authorities and been granted permission to use lighting columns for displaying the signs. However, in order to comply with regulations, the signs must be temporary (displayed for a maximum period of one month).
Failure to comply with these regulations could mean that the person(s) responsible for placing the sign could be at risk of prosecution and Leeds City Council would then be forced to permanently withdraw the signs from the Community Speed Awareness Scheme.
What training will I expect to receive?
- Rules and regulations on how and where to use SID
- How to set up and dismantle SID
- Safe lifting and transporting of SID
- Keeping yourself safe in public
Where and when will the training take place?
The training can take place either at a community venue or our offices at Merrion House and at a time that is agreed by all participants.
Not all members if the community group will need to undertake the training. But we would recommend at least two people are selected to have the training then they will in turn be able to train other members of the community group.