Applications of Automated Speed Measurement Equipment

Traffic accidents in construction work zones are a nationally significant problem. In urban areas, heavy traffic volumes and high speeds make construction work extremely hazardous. In rural areas, traffic volumes may be lower, but the problem of high speeds can be even more severe. One South Dakota study has shown that the presence of the highway patrol can reduce traffic speeds in work zones, but unless officers actually issue citations, the effect of presence alone is temporary. Sufficient numbers of officers are not available for continuous enforcement. Research project SD97-12 evaluated a manned video/Lidar system to detect speeders with the intention of issuing citations through the mail. The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) attempted to pass legislation allowing the issuance of speeding citations through the mail. However, it did not pass, and the use of video/lidar systems was not allowed in the enforcement of regulatory speed limits in work zones. Legislators were unwilling to support issuing citations based on video or photos taken of a speeding vehicle. Traditional speed control methods without consequences offer short-term effects, and speeds gradually increase as motorists become accustomed to the devices. The panel feels that by demonstrating that speeding problems exist in certain school zones, and that speed reduction methods such as speed monitoring displays and decoy cars are only temporary solutions, legislators will be more willing to allow the use of automated enforcement technologies. The technical panel has selected Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) equipment to be used in this study that photographs the rear of a vehicle violating the speed limit, resulting in a high-resolution photograph revealing the vehicle's license plate number. This research would collect data to determine whether speeding problems exist in school zones, and whether automated speed enforcement devices are capable of deterring speeders in school zones. Automated equipment installed in school zones would collect information about motorists speeding through school zones, giving researchers an idea of how many citations would have been issued if legislation allowed it. The objectives of this research project are to: (1) determine to what extent speed enforcement issues exist in select school zones; (2) identify benefits and disadvantages of automated speed enforcement systems in school zones; and  (3) recommend an automated enforcement system for use in school and work zones. Research tasks for this project are as follows: (1) Perform a literature search that includes speed enforcement initiatives in school and work zones. (2) Propose a work plan including timing and duration of speed measurements, and equipment to be used to verify speed measurements. (3) Meet with the technical panel to review the project scope and work plan. (4) Verify that signing within the school zones selected by the panel is compliant with MUTCD. (5) Collect speed data with the ASE equipment in conjunction with other speed logging equipment as a control. (6) Analyze the performance of ASE equipment including reliability, clarity of images, effective identification of vehicles without being driver-intrusive, recording of speed, date and time, and the number of citations identified. (7) Recommend automated methods to improve long term compliance with speed limits in school zones. (8) Prepare a final report summarizing research methodology, findings, conclusions and recommendations. (9) Make executive presentation to the SDDOT's Research Review Board at the conclusion of the project.