Optimizing Pedestrian Safety: Why Radar Feedback Signs Are Used by 99% of Municipalities

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How often do you exceed the speed limit on the five streets and roads you drive on the most? How about the top ten?

When drivers are familiar with an area, speed limit signs and other traffic control methods often fade into the background.

Drivers settle into a speed routine – whether that aligns with the posted speed limit or not – and pay less attention.

On unfamiliar roads, the danger is also high because drivers can overestimate the anticipated speed limit and not notice posted speed limit signs, or there simply may not be any for a long stretch of road.

Essentially, it’s all too easy to exceed the posted speed, putting pedestrians and other vulnerable road users at much greater risk. No one thinks it will happen to them, but there were 9,378 speed-related deaths in the U.S. in 2018, according to the NHTSA, and many were pedestrians simply trying to cross the street.

Increasing speed limit compliance and, thus, decreasing overall speeds, has a real impact on pedestrian safety. For example, a Texas A&M Transportation Institute study found radar feedback signs to reduce speeds in school zones by as much as nine miles per hour by raising speed awareness and holding drivers more accountable.

That speed reduction directly equates to lives saved, as evidenced by the NHTSA’s “Literature Review on Vehicle Travel Speeds and Pedestrian Injuries” report, which provided the data for the chart below.

Radar feedback signs are a popular solution at speeding hotspots, so TAPCO partnered with Connecticut-based research firm The Caney Group LLC to conduct a study to discover why, among other questions.

Used in 99 percent of surveyed U.S. towns and cities, these signs are commonly used when static speed limit signs prove ineffective.

“In the right place and for the right situation, [radar] feedback signs are a good option to consider to reduce vehicle speeds,” says Sandra Larson, Systems Operations Bureau Director for the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Highway Division.

Overall, permanent radar feedback signs were over twice as popular as mobile signs among surveyed towns and cities. They were also more widely used by small (35,000 to 99,000 people) and medium-sized cities (100,000 to 199,000) than in large ones (200,000 to 999,000).

In large cities, however, mobile units were favored, perhaps due to a greater need to move the signs to different speeding hotspots when needed.

In addition, the Midwest, South and West all use radar feedback signs almost equally, with the Northeast lagging far behind, according to the study.

Nearly half of those surveyed said their town or city plans to increase its use of radar feedback signs in the next two years. Those plans did not vary by region or city size, indicating the widespread perceived effectiveness of this solution at improving speed awareness.

Pairing a radar feedback sign with attention-grabbing LED-enhanced warning alerts to create a driver feedback system can further increase driver compliance, as well as improve visibility around the clock.

Driver feedback systems with customizable activation periods are ideal for school zones and college, hospital or corporate campuses.

Clearly, radar feedback signs are so popular across the country because thousands of towns and cities have found them effective at reducing speeding and maximizing safety. Is your community leveraging them to the fullest?

Download the white paper based on our research study for more insights >


Part 1: Optimizing Pedestrian Safety: New Data on Mid-Block Crosswalk Usage by City Size and Region

Part 2: Optimizing Pedestrian Safety: 5 Low-Tech but Highly Valuable Pedestrian Safety Solutions

Part 3: Optimizing Pedestrian Safety: Why RRFBs Are the Go-To Tool for Many Communities

Aleischa Kronshagen

TAPCO | Product Manager

With several years of experience in the traffic safety industry, Aleischa manages TAPCO's dynamic curve warning solution product line and most other specialty solution product lines, including emergency vehicle, icy road and intersection conflict.

Previously, she was a member of TAPCO's customer service team, which fostered a passion for process and data analysis, as well as creative problem solving.

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