radar speed signs

According to Transport Canada’s National Collision Database, 1,841 people died in motor vehicle crashed in 2017 and 112,479 received personal injuries.  

In 2018, more pedestrians were killed by cars in Toronto than during the previous year.

Although there are myriad of reasons for car accidents, some occur because the driver was exceeding the posted traffic sign limit. Radar speed signs can help lower the number of vehicles travelling over the speed limit.

Continue reading to learn more. 

What are Radar Speed Signs?

Radar speed signs are speed limit detectors. The signs indicate the speed of a vehicle travelling by with an LED display that indicates their current speed.

Speed signs generally have two sections. One stays static showing the posted speed limit. The lower portion is dynamic giving the driver feedback on their speed and whether or not they need to slow down.

If the vehicle is travelling under the posted speed limit, the sign will simply post the vehicle’s speed. 

If the vehicle is exceeding the posted speed limit, the sign will flash with the driver’s current speed, indicating to the driver that they need to slow down. In some places, the sign may flash with a happy face or a sad face. 

No one wants to see the sad face.

How Do Radar Speed Signs Work?

Radar speed signs use radar waves to measure how fast a vehicle is travelling. They do this by sending out radio frequency waves out to the vehicle and the waves echo back a signal to the receiver.

By doing this, the radar speed sign measures the distance between the receiver, out to the moving vehicle and then back to the receiver. Using this data, the hardware installed on the speed sign is able to compute the speed the vehicle is travelling.   

Radar speed signs are powered by a battery or solar power so they are not limited to where they can be placed for effective traffic calming measures.

Why Use Speed Signs?

Radar speed signs are used to slow traffic down in areas where road conditions are compromised by either construction, road works, or where vehicles are known to exceed the posted legal speed limits. Another application is using them near where pedestrians frequently appear. 

Alternatives to radar speed signs, such as speed bumps, choke points, road built-outs, chicanes, and other physical road impediments are effective. They all cause drivers to slow down. 

Unfortunately, this means that these type of measures also slows down emergency vehicles, making it take longer for them to reach the people who need their help. 

Further, some alternatives offer a way to reduce traffic during heavy congestion periods. Speed bumps on side streets off larger roads is a typical place to find these being in use.

While speed bumps do help keep the speed down for cars cutting through side streets during the high-volume traffic hours, it affects everyone driving down these streets the rest of the time. The residents on these streets, for example, have to go up and down the bumps every time they go anywhere, even on the weekend, causing wear-and-tear on their vehicles.

Because radar speed signs do not physically modify or change the actual road conditions, they provide a way to communicate with drivers while keeping the roads unobstructed during lower-traffic times.

Where Are These Signs Used?

Some of the more common places radar speed signs are used in are construction areas, school zones, and where the posted speed limit changes occur. 

These areas are an effective spot to place a radar speed sign that blinks to communicate with the driver to encourage them to slow down.

The layout and traffic pattern around construction areas can change from hour-to-hour over the completion of the project so drivers may be exposed to different conditions than the last time they passed through that area. 

School zones, especially around primary schools, pedestrians are very likely to occur. Young people are especially vulnerable as they may not take care when crossing the street, even in a crosswalk, because they are not likely aware of the danger vehicles possess.

Other areas where radar speed signs are especially effective is at places where the surrounding property use changes, creating a change in what dangers the driver should be taking into consideration. Such as when moving from commercial zones to residential, rural to residential, or when entering an industrial plant.

Are Speed Signs Effective?

A report issued by AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety determined the injury and death statistics for pedestrians being hit by a vehicle travelling at different speeds: 

  • The risk of a person suffering injury ranges from 10% at 16 mph/25 km, 25% at 23 mph/37 km, 75% at 39 mph/62 km, and 90% at 46 mph/74 km.  The difference of 30 miles/49 km per hour raises the risk of injury by  80%. 
  • The statistics for pedestrians dying similarly escalate when hit at faster speeds. At 23 mph/37 km, there is a 10% risk and that risk continually rises up to 90% at 58 mph/93 km.  

Radar speed limit signs have been reported to be effective in encouraging a significant percentage of drivers to slow down, per a study performed by the California and Oregon Advanced Transportation System. 

Give Radar Speed Signs a Reason to Smile 

No matter how the radar speed signs you encounter opt to display their information to you – via a smile or by blinking – give them the respect they deserve.

These signs are placed where they are for your safety as well as the safety of others. They mean you are likely heading into a location where traffic safety personnel have noticed a high occurrence of prior accidents and danger occurring. 

Don’t take your chances when speed signs tell you that you are driving too fast.

Just slow down!

If you would like more information about innovative, intelligent traffic solutions, please contact us.


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