City of Livermore Policy on Speed Control
In 1999, the City Council initiated a Traffic Education, Engineering, and Enforcement program to respond to neighborhood traffic concerns. This program employs a traffic management team comprised of Police and Engineering Department experts who emphasize education, engineering and enforcement to improve traffic safety. Additionally, in March 2002, the City Council adopted the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program that guides the use of traffic calming devices to help reduce vehicle on residential streets. Some or all of the following actions may be implemented to respond to speeding complaints:
- Use speed trailer* and other educational devices such as neighborhood newsletters and speed limit reminder signs to increase awareness.
- Engineering and Police staff attend neighborhood meetings to inform residents regarding policies and procedures, to answer questions, and explain what residents can do to reduce speeds in their neighborhood.
- Collect and evaluate speed data to identify the best approach to reduce speeds.
- Review existing traffic control devices (signing and striping) and implement changes as necessary.
- Implement the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program.
- Provide selective enforcement using the new motorcycle units.
- Increase police presence in the neighborhood.
- Target team enforcement and saturation efforts.
*A speed trailer is a device used by the Police Department to supplement radar enforcement. The display board shows the posted speed limit and the speed of the vehicle approaching the trailer. Drivers become aware of the speed they are traveling, and many slow down. The trailer can be used on most streets that are wide enough to park the trailer out of the way of traffic.
To request a speed trailer or additional enforcement on your street, please call the police department "Hot Line" at 371-4856 or visit the Livermore Police Department. It is helpful if you make note of the time of day during which speeding occurs. The Police Department has a list of many locations in need of their services. You can make their job easier and more effective by letting them know ahead of time when they should target enforcement efforts.
In most cases, the majority of speeders on residential streets are residents in the neighborhood. This has been confirmed through checking addresses of motorists who were cited by the Police Department when implementing concentrated enforcement in response to complaints of speeding. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to reduce speeding on residential streets is through neighborhood involvement. Circulating neighborhood newsletters is the best method of spreading awareness of speeding and other neighborhood issues. Another method of spreading awareness is to post speed limit reminder signs on recycling bins or on other private property.
Commonly Requested Methods To Control Speeds
Stop signs are not successful in slowing traffic except near the stop sign. Drivers try to make up for the delay by speeding up between stop controlled intersections. This quick acceleration increases noise and air pollution near the signs. Stop signs are only appropriate for establishing right-of-way. The City installs stop signs at an intersection only after a careful engineering evaluation of the existing conditions demonstrates the installation is appropriate.
"Slow Children at Play" signs are often requested on residential streets. These signs tend to create a false sense of security for parents and children who believe the signs provide an added degree of protection from motorists. If signs encourage parents with children to believe they have an added degree of protection, which the signs do not and can not provide, a great disservice results. Children should not be encouraged to play within the roadway. Although these signs used to be common on public streets, they are no longer approved by the State of California or the Federal Highway Administration as official traffic control devices. For these reasons, the City of Livermore does not install these signs.
Lowering of the speed limit is often requested by citizens in an effort to slow traffic. Before and after studies have shown that there is no significant change in prevailing speeds when the speed limit is changed. Drivers will continue to travel at speeds they feel are safe and prudent despite the posted limit. The posting of the appropriate speed limit simplifies the job of law enforcement officers, since most of the traffic is voluntarily moving at the posted speed. Blatant speeders are easily spotted, safe drivers are not penalized, and patrol officers aren't asked to enforce unrealistic and arbitrary speed limits.
Unrealistic speed limits can also present a safety hazard. Some drivers will obey the lower posted speed limit while others will feel it is unreasonable and simply ignore it. This disrupts the uniform traffic flow and increases crash potential between the faster and the slower traffic. Traffic flowing at a uniform speed results in increased safety and fewer accidents. Drivers are less impatient, pass less often, and tailgate less, which reduces both head-on and rear-end collisions.
The California Vehicle Code and the California Department of Transportation set requirements and procedures for setting speed limits. Engineering and traffic surveys are conducted which includes an analysis of roadway conditions, accident records and a sampling of the prevailing speed of traffic. The speed limit is normally set near the speed at which 85% of the surveyed vehicles do not exceed. The speed limit can be reduced if there is a history of speed-related accidents or roadway conditions not readily apparent to motorists. Setting speed limits in this manner allows the police to enforce using radar. Radar is by far the most efficient method of speed enforcement.
State law establishes certain prima facie speed limits. They include the 25 MPH speed limit in business and residence districts, 25 MPH in school zones when children are present, and 15 MPH in alleys, at uncontrolled intersections and railroad crossings where visibility is limited. These speed limits do not need to be posted to be enforced.
If you have any questions regarding the City's Traffic Engineering, Education and Enforcement Program, please call the Police Department "Hot Line" at 371-4856 or on the Police Department web pages.