Do motorists really intend to speed in school zones? an experiment to address traffic offending
Submission Date: 2014
School speed zones are temporary reductions to speed limits during periods of travel by school children in NSW. Compliance with the lower speed limits has been problematic, but are motorists always consciously responsible for the wrong choice of speed and the resultant likelihood of a driving violation? Two studies are reported. Study 1 showed that an interruption to a journey, caused by stopping at a red traffic light, can result in failure to resume the appropriate, lower legal speed of travel within a school zone. Study 2 showed that the addition of a reminder cue to motorists could offset this interruption. The studies were conducted in school zone sites subject to a 40 km/h speed limit in metropolitan Sydney, NSW. During school travel times, the operation of the school speed zone required a reduction in travel speed for motorists of between 20-40 km/h. Motorists who had stopped at a red traffic signal and then resumed driving during school travel times sped, on average, 8.27 km/h over the speed limit, compared with only 1.76 km/h over the limit for those who had not been required to stop. In the second study, a flashing ‘check speed’ reminder cue placed 70m after the traffic lights, in the same school zones and times as those in Study 1, eliminated the interruptive effect of stopping. Motorists resumed their journey at the lower legal speed. These findings have practical implications for the design of road environments, enforcement of speed limits, and the safety of pedestrians.