What Communities Can Do to Enforce Laws

Enforcement is not exclusively for police officers. The community can also play an important role in enhancing traffic safety. Representatives of communities can improve driver and pedestrian behaviors in many ways. Here are a few:

Neighborhood Speed Watch

In this approach, a radar speed unit is loaned to residents who are trained by police on how to collect speed data and vehicle descriptions. The local agency follows up and sends a letter to the driver asking for voluntary compliance. This measure often has limited long-term effectiveness in changing the problem but can be useful in other ways. It can educate neighbors about the issue (e.g., most speeders live in the neighborhood) and help boost support for long-term solutions, such as traffic calming. For examples and more information, see the Safe Routes to School Online Guide.

Slow-Down Yard Sign Campaigns and Pace-Car Campaigns

Slow-down yard sign campaigns allow residents of neighborhoods with speeding problems to participate in reminding drivers to slow down. Neighborhood leaders, safety advocates and law enforcement officials work in partnership to identify problem areas, recruit residents to post yard signs, organize distribution of yard signs, garner media attention, and evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign. Slow-down yard sign campaigns may be conducted along with other speed enforcement efforts such as pace car campaigns and the use of speed radar trailers.

An evaluation of a slow- down yard sign campaign by the Safe Community Coalition of Madison and Dane County concluded that the signs are noticed and people do slow down when the signs are up, especially when speed boards are used to show drivers their approaching speed.

Neighborhood pace-car programs aim to make neighborhoods safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. Resident pace-car drivers agree to drive courteously, at or below the speed limit, and follow other traffic laws. Programs usually require interested residents to register as a pace car driver, sign a pledge to abide by the rules, and display a sticker on their vehicle.

Neighborhood Fight Back Programs

Neighborhood fight back programs are collaborative efforts between local governments and concerned residents to address crime, blight and other issues negatively impacting their neighborhoods. Though traditionally used to address illegal drug activity, traffic and pedestrian safety may be one area of concern. The local government provides multi-agency support over a limited period of time to concentrate enforcement activities in specific neighborhoods.

Radar Speed Trailers and Active Speed Monitors

A speed trailer lets motorists know when they are exceeding the posted speed limit.Fixed motorist feedback signs or movable radar speed trailers can be used as part of a community education program. Radar trailers are moved to different locations and are occasionally supplemented with officer enforcement for those motorists who do not believe that there is any reason to pay attention to the speed trailers. Some radar speed trailers can record speed data and traffic counts by 15-minute or hourly intervals throughout the day, which will help in targeting future police enforcement. As with neighborhood speed watch programs, these have limited long-term effectiveness in changing the problem but can be useful in educating people and helping to boost support for long-term solutions.

Safe Routes to School Walking Plans

Safe Routes to School (SR2S) is a national program teaching education, enforcement, engineering, and encouragement strategies to make walking to school safe. Although SR2S programs vary between communities, they often include exercises to map out the best and safest ways to walk to school and encourage students to walk. These walking plans help to identify where sidewalk and roadway improvements or where crossing guards or police enforcement are needed. Parents and students should be involved in developing the plans, and parts of the program focus on teaching children how to cross safely. Safe walking routes can also be developed for senior citizen homes to assist in finding the routes to walk to nearby stores and medical centers and to target problem areas for improvements. To learn more, visit the National Center for Safe Routes to School or read the FHWA program guidance for Safe Routes to School.

Adult School Crossing Guards

Adult school crossing guards can play a key role in promoting safe driver and pedestrian behaviors at crosswalks near schools. They help children safely cross the street and remind drivers of the presence of pedestrians. A guard helps children develop the skills to cross streets safely at all times. Adult school crossing guards can be parent volunteers, school staff or paid personnel. Annual classroom and field training for adult school crossing guards as well as special uniforms or equipment to increase visibility are recommended, and in some locations required. The presence of guards can lead to more parents feeling comfortable about their child walking or bicycling to school. For more information, see the Adult School Crossing Guard Guidelines.