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Slower drivers mean faster progress toward vision of zero traffic deaths

Using camera technology to monitor drivers’ speeds can help reduce accidents

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Drivers are more likely to follow speed limits when they are aware their speed is being monitored.

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Sponsored by Jenoptik

By Carol Brzozowski for Police1 BrandFocus

Tens of thousands of deaths and millions of injuries each year in the U.S. occur due to preventable traffic crashes, a factor deemed a public health crisis by such organizations as the Vision Zero Network, a nonprofit collaborative campaign designed to help communities eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries.

Designed to reduce accidents and fatalities by holding accountable those who break the law, speed monitoring programs may be controversial but have been shown an effective law enforcement approach, changing driver behavior and increasing community safety.

Adding automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) to a speed monitoring program can help communities identify criminals as well as speeders.

Mitigating the challenges

The World Health Organization (WHO) notes inappropriate speed contributes to approximately one in three traffic accidents worldwide that lead to the death of a person. Some studies show traffic monitoring motivates drivers to take more responsibility for their actions. The return on investment in speed monitoring is the cost reduction by preventing accidents.

Managing speed saves lives

According to a 2017 WHO study on managing speed, a 5% cut in average speeds on all roads would result in a 30% reduction in the number of fatal road traffic crashes.

Among Vision Zero’s initiatives is to develop and share resources on promising roadway strategies, techniques and resources based on the “safe systems” approach, such as managing speeds.

School zones can be of particular concern. Overall the pedestrian death rate in children under the age of 19 has decreased in the last 20 years, yet the rate for teenagers (12-19) has increased by 13%.

While factors in this increase included distraction from texting and talking on mobile devices, using headphones and unsafe driving in school drop-off and pick-up zones, researchers also observed that only four of 10 school zones had speed limits of 20 miles per hour or less.

Researchers note adopting a culture of slowing down cars in school zones can be established through school zone speed limits of no higher than 20 mph and preferably 15 mph.

They add while camera monitoring is controversial for some people, it has been found to be effective, and its use should at least be encouraged in school zones, with substantial fines to deter speeding.

In 2013, state laws paved the way for New York City to pilot an automated speed monitoring program to deter speeding in 20 school zones. The pilot was expanded a year later to 140 school zones to support pursuit of the city’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries.

The New York City Department of Transportation deployed speed cameras in 750 school speed zones on all weekdays between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

As of December 2020, speeding at fixed camera locations using school zone speed cameras had dropped 72% on average, with some large corridors seeing even greater decreases.

The DOT installed an average of 60 new cameras per month in 2021, with the aim of reaching 2,220 cameras in 2022.

Smart technology combines functions

Speed camera technology now enables more user-friendly AI-based tools for law enforcement to foster a more positive impact on driver behavior.

Technology such as that offered by Jenoptik – with more than 30,000 installations in 80 countries – achieves 50 million ALPR reads daily.

Jenoptik offers mobile and stationary speed monitoring systems for varying purposes and at varying types of locations to help reduce road accident numbers. Its technology also has enabled a 90% average reduction of speed violations after speed camera installation.

Mobile speed cameras, designed for quick and flexible deployment, can be installed inside vehicles as well as on tripods. They provide combined red light and speed monitoring using laser and radar sensors designed to detect speeding vehicles, among other functions. High-resolution cameras automatically document traffic violations with images that are legally admissible in court.

Jenoptik’s stationary speed monitoring systems use laser and radar sensors to reliably measure exact vehicle speeds. They deliver precision measurements and high-resolution, legally admissible images. The company’s radar solution has been successfully deployed across North America for over a decade.

Jenoptik’s VECTOR SR is a video-based system that combines red light and speed enforcement with automatic plate number recognition to enhance road safety further.

The bottom line is that without traffic offenses, there are no fines and no crimes. Speed detection equipment paired with ALPR are the tools law enforcement agencies need to change driver behavior and keep our communities safer while working toward the goal of Vision Zero to reduce traffic fatalities to zero.

Visit Jenoptik for more information.

Read next: How to keep kids safe from school zone speeders