The Wiltshire and Swindon Road Safety Partnership along with Swindon Council are piloting a pioneering scheme that will use traffic signals to stop drivers speeding. Two roads in the UK town have been chosen for a pilot study, where traffic lights will turn to red if they detect a speeding motorist approaching. The system will be introduced to Thamesdown Drive and Queens Drive in the autumn. Both roads have a speed limit of 64km/h (40mph), but are subject to significant numbers of speeding vehicles and have also been the scenes of several accidents during the last five years. Local authority statistics show that 67% of vehicles exceed the speed limit in Thamesdown Drive and 38% on Queens Drive.
A Data Logger will be connected to the traffic signal system and will record the speed of all vehicles that pass. Motorists driving at speed over a specific threshold, which the council will not reveal, are identified as speeding, triggering the traffic signals at the junction to turn to from green to red. To ensure that speeding vehicles have enough time to safely stop when the signals change to red, the Data Logger is located well in advance of the junction. The cameras will recognize emergency service vehicle number plates and will ensure that a red signal is not triggered by them. Traffic speed data for both roads suggests that the signals are likely to operate to their usual phasing in the morning and evening peak flow periods, when vehicles are likely to be travelling well within the speed limit. The system is likely to be more effective at off-peak times, when traffic volumes are lower and vehicle speeds are higher.
In 2009, Swindon’s council became the first local authority in England to abandon fixed speed cameras. The council’s cabinet member for sustainability, strategic planning, property and transport, Peter Greenhalgh, said, “This is very much a first for Swindon and we will use the data collected at the trial sites and it could well be rolled out across the rest of the town. It has been used in Europe, but I do not know anywhere in the UK where they use this scheme. This is part of the council’s traffic management and we have identified a couple of key locations on which to trial it. Hopefully it will encourage drivers to be aware of their speeds and also to be aware of what is going on ahead of them. It will irritate drivers, but if you maintain a steady speed at, or around, the speed limit, you will get to where you want to be quicker, because you won’t be held up at traffic lights.”
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