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Aspects of Managing Neighborhood Speed Limits With Signs

May 29, 2019

Setting neighborhood speed limits is usually a job for local leaders. National standards for traffic laws are set by the Federal Highway Administration and their Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Congress passed a law in the sixties that traffic control devices must be based on sound engineering concepts. Other than that, specific traffic laws are set by local jurisdictions. Here are ways that neighborhood speed limits can be managed with appropriate signs.

Assessing the Community

Deciding on neighborhood speed limits should be based on both engineering and how the community behaves. If there are several big events in a neighborhood every year it may mean more traffic and more signs. The composition of the neighborhood in terms of demographics, professions and interest levels help define communities and the amount of traffic they attract.

Most family neighborhoods have slow speed limits such as 30 mph or slower. These neighborhoods often have schools, which is a key reason for slower speeds. The layout and history of the streets surrounding schools play into the number of signs necessary to raise awareness about traffic safety. The number of students enrolled in the school is also a factor.

Moving Toward Safer Neighborhoods

Safer traffic conditions come from lawmaking and placement of speed limit signs. The signs need to be placed in such a manner that they serve as both warnings and reminders to respect residential areas. Too many signs can have the opposite effect of drivers ignoring messages about speed. Where speed must absolutely be reduced, the combination of signs and speed bumps has been reliable.

Adding LED lights to speed limit signs can help improve driver visibility. Sometimes these lights are helpful in shady areas. Drivers tend to drive faster on streets with multiple lanes, but still need reminders on two-lane roads.

Posting a Series of Messages

Effective traffic control through signage occurs due to repetition of the same message, safety, through different signs. Letting motorists know they should “slow down” can be achieved with a series of signs including those that warn of pedestrians and children present. Collectively, signs tell a story about a neighborhood’s profile, which includes the speed of normal traffic flow. The impact of multiple signs, several of which show images of children, paints a vivid picture for drivers.


Signs communicate to drivers and should be used accordingly to maintain slower speeds in residential areas. Contact Zumar at our Arizona, California or Washington location to learn more about the importance of road signs that convey neighborhood speed limits. As long as these signs are visible, they can be powerful tools at slowing down traffic flow, particularly near schools and playgrounds.

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