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Traffic Calming Devices and Strategies

December 19, 2019

The concept of traffic calming has been around for nearly a century as a strategy for slowing down motorists in residential areas. One of the main ways to achieve this goal is through signs and other traffic devices, such as radar. Here are some of the ways that traffic calming has worked to reduce noise and air pollution.

Traffic Calming Components

Traffic calming is based on “three E’s,” which are engineering, education and enforcement. Engineers study the community and its roads to determine which traffic devices will work best in a certain location. The community must educate itself about how these devices work and law officers must enforce traffic laws for traffic calming principles to work.

Speed bumps are used on residential streets as a traffic calming measure to ensure lower speeds. For most of the twentieth century, engineers designed streets with driving in mind, but now modern urban planners seek to bring citizens closer together. Streets traditionally have separated neighborhoods, but today there is rising demand for peace and privacy.

Engineers use various strategies to create calmer traffic environments, such as narrowing traffic lanes while adding parking spaces, bike lanes and sidewalks. Narrower lanes influence drivers to pay closer attention to driving safely. Using barriers to create pedestrian zones is another effective method of traffic calming and community safety.

Radar Speed Signs

In 2001, the company TraffiCalm helped pioneer the first radar speed signs for 3M Traffic Safety Systems. Trafficalm designs other traffic control solutions, such as driver feedback signs and display trailers. The company’s engineering team works toward designing cost-effective solutions such as variable speed limit signs.

Driver feedback signs that post driver speeds based on radar have been effective at slowing down traffic. TraffiCalm has worked with law enforcement to improve traffic control technology since its inception. Its devices are used by schools and other places where it’s imperative that speeds be reduced.

The company’s SignAlert technology is useful for letting drivers and pedestrians know when emergency vehicles are entering the road. Its wrong way notification signs triggered by vehicles moving in the wrong direction have helped save lives and reduce severe accidents.

Other Traffic Calming Methods

Various technology is used to influence slower traffic speeds. Vehicle activated signs can post a message to speeding drivers to slow down. Photo enforced intersections serve as a warning to motorists they can’t get away with running a red light if photography proves otherwise. Cameras installed at intersections have helped local governments collect revenue on traffic citations that could not have been issued last century.

Another method of traffic calming is installing traffic lights that are triggered by sensors that detect traffic speeds. This technology allows traffic control officials to set speed thresholds for triggering lights. Speed cameras are used in Europe to issue automated citations based on speeding violations documented by cameras. Several studies have shown that these traffic calming devices have reduced collisions and traffic deaths in the UK. New York City has effectively used “red light cameras” to keep taxis out of bus lanes.


Most residential neighborhoods are concerned about keeping traffic under control, which can be achieved by traffic calming devices. Contact Zumar at our Arizona, California or Washington location to learn more about TraffiCalm products and other traffic control methods using MUTCD compliant signage.

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