The best traffic calming options!

The increase in traffic and congestion has jeopardized road traffic safety. With so many motorists, enforcing traffic rules has become more difficult than ever. Also, the air has been polluted with noise and smoke. Hence, no stretch of road can be done without a traffic control plan.

Traffic calming techniques are still the most relevant measures for traffic control. However, there are a large number of these traffic control devices available. These vary in terms of cost, traffic count, and the type of roadway in question.

The optimal calming techniques can reduce the number or severity of accidents while protecting pedestrians. They’ll also quieten a noisy neighbourhood.

Therefore, every traffic engineer must determine and recommend the best traffic calming options.

Do you want to know more about this topic? We also have an article to discuss everything about speed bumps.

Busy traffic situation at th city streets in the evening

What is traffic calming?

An uncontrolled intersection can adversely affect road safety. That is what traffic calming is about: it regulates speed control.

It creates discomfort in the driving routines of oncoming motorists. This is to slow down each of them to protect their motor vehicle. Slow traffic leads to lesser chances of collisions and, hence, fatalities.

Fewer crashes improve pedestrian safety, making the crosswalk less hazardous. But the system doesn’t just conform to pedestrians.

Every cyclist has a great chance of being injured on the road. These safety programs try to make it less unsafe for the average bicycle user and prevent crashes.

But there is a disadvantage. Traffic calming causes traffic congestion, slowing down emergency vehicles such as fire trucks. This hazard is countered by creating traffic lanes just for emergency-response vehicles.

As a result, the vehicular traffic volume on a single road is reduced along with pollution.

Kerb extension, road narrowing, a road sign about speed bump, and a roundabout.

How important is traffic calming in the UK?

Traffic calming has existed in the UK since the 1930s. The committees in charge wanted transportation engineers to reduce noise pollution in residential areas and city streets. With time, more intelligent transportation systems were required as the population grew. Today, the situation is much worse.

A report by the UK government showed that in 2019, the country’s traffic was ten times more than what it was 70 years ago. This has risen to even higher levels after the pandemic as people avoid using public transportation.

Hence, relying on police enforcement is more expensive and requires more manpower.

A police officer is pulling over a black car.

Traffic calming versus traffic control signs

Transportation engineers use reflective traffic signs and markings to discourage and warn against overspeeding. These include stop signs, speed limit signs, and parking signs. They are considered to be inexpensive and primitive for speed reduction. They’ve been used on British roadways since the 1960s.

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      However, studies show that they become more ineffective as more of them are used. In fact, the UK is following a CAM Roadmap, and it will remove all of its regulatory signs by 2027. This will be done in favour of CAM (Connected and Automated Mobility) technology, which is more effective and cheaper.

      Traffic speed limit sign fixed along the road to remind drivers not to drive above the speed shown on the sign

      What do traffic calming measures do?

      Various traffic management techniques exist, but they all have one thing in common: they aim to create a slow zone when used. So, while traffic calming measures are used in municipalities and parking lots, property owners can also use them on their own driveways.

      These measures work by either narrowing the road, raising it, or diverting its traffic. Many of them exist, but they’re divided into 4 common categories. The following are the main types of traffic calming techniques:

      1) Horizontal deflections: These measures tend to swerve the flow of traffic on the horizontal plane

      2) Road narrowing: This includes a variety of methods to decrease the width of the carriageway

      3) Vertical deflections: They are raised sections that jolt vehicles upwards after slowing them down

      4) Miscellaneous: This comprises everything else, including signage, islands, street furniture, traffic signals, and speed cameras

      Horizontal deflections, road narrowing, and a black and yellow speed bump.

      Alternatives to speed bumps

      With dozens of traffic calming techniques available today, picking the right one requires great intuition. This is because the concerned transportation department needs to rely on the traffic data and the road type. They need to observe all the surroundings (like if it’s a school zone).

      The results can positively or negatively affect not just traffic flow. But they’ll also influence the daily routines and driving habits of up to thousands of motorists. Out of a total of 70 calming measures, the speed breaker is widely used.

      These raised sections have been deployed as ”sleeping policemen” for almost a century now. They are very effective in bringing motorists down to a low speed.

      Speed bumps can be used in a series pattern to create a slow zone. But there are several other traffic-engineering alternatives to speed bumps.

      Chicanes, median diverters, corner radii, kerb extensions, bus or bike lanes, and traffic signals.

      Conclusion

      To conclude, traffic calming measures are more relevant than ever. This is due to increased road traffic over the past few decades.

      Traffic calming is the key to optimising city traffic flows to reduce accidents and pollution. Its usage leads to the better implementation of traffic laws and highway safety. Various traffic calming techniques exist, but only a few are considered for usage.

      The speed bump is one of those measures, but it has alternatives. These options are tried and tested to be effective for pedestrians. However, their usage depends upon the situation and the resources available.

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