By Carol Brzozowski for Police1 BrandFocus
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Tens of thousands of deaths and millions of injuries each year in the U.S. are due to preventable traffic crashes, a factor deemed a public health crisis by such organizations as Vision Zero Network, a nonprofit collaborative campaign designed to help communities eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.
Designed to reduce accidents and fatalities by holding accountable those who break the law, speed monitoring programs are proving to be an effective law enforcement approach, changing driver behavior and increasing community safety.
Adding automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) to a speed monitoring program serves to keep communities safe from 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.
The toll of the significant loss of life extends to personal economic costs and emotional trauma to those suffering and significant taxpayer spending on emergency response and long-term health care costs.
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. Any Surpluses generated can be channeled into projects such as bike paths or traffic calming zones.
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.
Safe Kids Worldwide in 2016 studied the issue of pedestrian distraction in teens after 2015 statistics revealed 284 teens ages 12 to 19 were killed while walking.
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 the study of more than 39,000 middle and high school students walking to and from school included distraction from texting and talking on mobile devices, using headphones and unsafe driving in 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 the 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 many functions into a single unit
Speed camera technology is advancing and now enables more user-friendly AI based tools for law enforcement to foster a more positive impact on driver behavior for a safer community.
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 that can be legally admissible in court.
Jenoptik’s stationary speed monitoring systems use laser and radar sensors to reliably measure exact vehicle speeds. They require no modifications to road surfaces and deliver precision measurements and high-resolution, legally admissible images. Their radar solution has been successfully deployed across North America for over a decade with 100% effectiveness.
Jenoptik’s VECTOR SR is a video-based system that combines red light and speed enforcement with automatic number plate recognition to even further enhance road safety.
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 towards 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