This Road Safety Week, Brake Charity has chosen the theme of Speed down, to highlight the importance of adhering to speedlimits and why 20mph zones are crucial for road safety. 

Street lighting controls and road use

So what does this have to do with street lighting and, in particularly, street lighting controls? Street lighting columns are regularly located along the edge of the motorway, residential streets and public spaces; their ubiquitous position ensures motorists and pedestrians are guided on their journey via a sequence of adequate lighting.

In the simplest form, street lighting controls can help highways specialists and city planners increase lighting levels according to road use, maintenance requirements and visibility, to name a few. Usually used to dim lights, their ability to make lights brighter and control on/off times is often overlooked, which is an important function – especially when it comes to improving road visibility and safety.

Adhering to the speed limit

On highways and motorways throughout the UK the speed limit is 70 miles per hour (mph); this is the fastest a motorist is legally permitted to drive. Within residential areas the speed limit has recently been reviewed, with the limit now reduced to 20mph rather than 30. This means that motorists are now required to drive slower in areas that see high pedestrian traffic, such as outside schools and nearby built-up citizen areas.

There are a number of different ways in which local authorities can ensure drivers are aware of the speed limit in these zones. Depending on the surrounding environment and residents nearby, road signage differs; this is usually down to how busy the road is and the demographic that uses the road. 

Increasing awareness of speed limits

In most instances, the standard and nationally recognised symbol to communicate the speed limit is used on small, regularly placed signs throughout specified zones – usually attached to lampposts. These act as a gentle reminder to #speeddown and consider road users, as well as residents, within a particular area. However, in some instances, a simple plaque will not effectively communicate the impetus of the change in speed limit; it is here where further assistance is required.

In areas that require increased road safety, such as schools and city centres, it is imperative that motorists observe the given speed limit, particularly at times when pedestrians might be using the road.  Intuitive, programmable and remotely managed speed signalling systems can warn drivers of the speed limit at crucial times of the day.   

Speed signalling lighting controls

Over the years a number of advanced solutions have been developed that help further solve the problem of speeding in particular. With the introduction of connected lighting systems, using hardware that is linked to an online network, speeding can be tackled in a more intuitive way.   

Centrally managed street lighting controls that are pre-programmed to alert drivers of the speed limit at specific times of the day, with flashing amber lights, act as a warning signal. Just like emergency services that use flashing lights to alert road users of urgency, crossing signals are also effective to promote safety awareness.

school signalling

What sets signalled speeding controls apart, from simple signage, is their ability to attract the attention of motorists in specific areas that require improved safety. This is a measure that ensures speed is adhered to throughout the entire zone, not only at crossings or school gates.

Of course, within residential areas, flashing lights can become a disturbance. Therefore, further programming is required to ensure signalling times coincide with school hours and term time, only. Giving more impetus of speed limits only at the most crucial times and reducing disruption as much as possible, computer managed lighting controls give councils the flexibility required to ensure citizens remain safe and comfortable at all times.   

Improving road safety

With the number of vehicles on the road increasing and the population rising, it is inevitable that the amount of pedestrians in city centres is also on the rise. This combination could be a potentially dangerous one, if no action is taken to protect the safety of all road users, which is why the enforcement of speed limits and supporting technology is so important.

By working with members of the public sector and local authorities, to help them tackle the issue of speed in city and residential hubs, lighting controls can be developed that suit the specific road safety requirements of citizens.

Road Safety can be optimised by specific and scheduled signalling that not only warns motorists of the speed limit, but adds a sense of impetus to the physical act of speeding down. In fact there are examples throughout the UK where technology has already aided road safety, by way of controlled road side signalling.

Our next blog will look at work we have recently carried out with a local school to help reduce the speed of passing motorists. For now, take a look at this handy infographic that maps the history of speed limits in our communities, courtesy of Brake Charity. Find out more about Road Safety week by heading to the official website here

Click here for infographic