What are Slow Zones?

Photo courtesy of Flickr Images by Matthew Paul Argall

A slow zone is an area that you’re not supposed to drive more than 40 km per hour.

For example in the Yarra Council in Melbourne, new slow zones allow the driver to only drive up to 30 kilometres per hour.

Unfortunately, most residents opposed this. A study in UK indicates that people are more likely to speed when faced with the slow limit rule.

For example;

  • 16% of motorists will do more than 30 miles per hour on streets with speed limit of 20 miles per hour
  • 53% of motorists will exceed the speed in areas with a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour
  • 46% of motorists exceed the 17 miles per hour on motorways
  • 8% of motorists will exceed the 60 miles per hour maximum speed on single carriage roads

As if the statistics are not bad enough, areas where the UK councils had put a limit of 20 miles per hour, there was an increase in the people killed or injured in serious accidents.

According to the research, people tend to get less careful in areas where there is speed limit. The transport department says that 20 miles per hour zone do not work because drivers do not believe in them.

In fact, where UK councils had installed 20mph zones, seven of 13 areas saw an increase in rates of people killed or seriously injured.

It is possible the locals began to feel safer in those zones and took less care. Department for Transport said 20mph zonesdid not work in most areas” and even claimed drivers “don’t believe in them”.

It is possible that Australian drivers will assume same attitudes towards slow zones.

Many authorities are tempted to install speed bumps. While the speed bumps work well in reducing speeds, they are not good for fuel efficiency and environment.

A series of speed bumps therefore causes a stop start style that is inefficient and creates extra emissions because fuel is burned that did not need to be burned when the road was flat.

How bad is it? We were surprised.

GOFAR’s speed bump experiment – emissions increased by 60%

What is the Situation in New South Wales?

In New South Wales, the only direction to go is to slow down the vehicle. There are many slow zones and many more are on the way.

For example, you are supposed to drive not more than 40 kilometres per hour in school zones, high pedestrian areas such as hospitals, shopping areas, and train stations.

Starting the September of 2018, the traffic department has come up with a rule of forty kilometres per hour or never there is a search and rescue, ambulance, fire, or police car flashing the red and blue lights.

If you ignore this role, you risk incurring a fine of $448 and 3 demerit points.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Images by Bidgee

What is the Compliance with School Zone Speed Limits?

According to Bernard Carlon, the executive director for Centre for Road Safety, speed limits of 40 km per hour in school zones do not have respectable compliance rates.

Only 40% of drivers who drive in school zones obey the rules.

While the police that is tasked with enforcing the rules suggest that drivers have poor habits and intend to speed, speeding is not always deliberate.

One study of school zone driving zones suggests that the interruptions around school can create a phenomenon known as prospective memory error.

For example at traffic light stops, when the light turns green the drivers will automatically go back to the usual speed forgetting that they’re driving in school zones.

The government has put no cues to remind them that they are in school zone and so a reminder will suffice if they are to obey the school zone driving rules.

Another example of prospective memory error is when the school kids are not visible in school zones, the driver will assume automatically that he needs to drive as usual.

The condition can also apply when there are roadworks, or when people driving from rural to urban speed zones.

An interruption such as a green light will kick start this cognitive process.

Unfortunately the law enforcement have not given much credence to these arguments.

Can Speed Awareness Training Help?

While the usual punishment for speeding is to get a fine or demerit points, a speed awareness training will be more effective.

According to a study by IPSOS, approximately 2.2 million motorists in UK choose the speed awareness training for only 192,000 tools to take the penalty points or fine.

The study revealed that;

  • 6 months after the course, the participants are 23% less likely to be caught speeding.
  • Only 21% of those who took the course compared to 23% who are the files are likely to re-offend within three years.

In short, what this study concluded, was that speeders will always revert to the unusual driving habits despite a temporary behavioural change.

Can Speed Cameras Work?

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Images by Dean Molyneaux

The speed camera has spread all over Australia bring the government approximately 1.1 billion in fines.

Unfortunately, they do not seem to be effective as there was an increase in lives lost for the man ended July 2018 by 5.2% or 383 lost lives.

Fortunately, they have proved to be effective and reducing serious injury during accident;

  • Compared to 2016, injuries in 2017 were down by 2.7% or 12,055 people
  • The rate of serious injuries in 2017 was the lowest in the last 10 years
  • The rate of serious injuries was 153.4 people per 100000 people in 2017 compared to 160 pt1 people for 100000 people in 2016

One major disadvantage of speed cameras is drivers will spend most of the time looking at their speedometers rather than paying attention to the road.

The speed cameras also have a limitation in that they cannot detect drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

How to Help the Speeders

There is an underlying problem to speeding over and above rebellious motorist who decide to go over the limit.

It is true that the Australian government is not going something in driver training schools to improve the awareness of the perils of over speeding.

It is it is wrong to assume that when one passes the driving test as an adolescent, they know what they are doing going forward.

Remember that the roads and driving conditions change regularly.

For example in school zone offenses, there is relatively new traffic rules. These rules can be confusing during school holidays.

The speed rules will continue to evolve and more and more places are going to become slow zones.

Perhaps the car manufacturers should think of putting speed governors on vehicles to help reduce speed in slow speed zones first.

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