Purpose of Traffic Calming
Traffic calming is the altering of physical features of a roadway to reduce reckless driving behavior and to increase the safety of pedestrians and non-motorists in the area. The measures that are taken to calm traffic all have something in common: to restrict the movement of a vehicle in at least one direction. Traffic calming often prevents drivers from coming too close to sidewalks, driving over the speed limit, and encroaching on pedestrian walkways.
Traffic Calming Techniques
You may be wondering why some parking lots have vertical parking spots while others have diagonal ones; the truth is that each of them has its benefits. While vertical parking maximizes the amount of space in a lot, diagonal parking is much safer and user-friendly.
It only takes one lane of a road to pull in and out of a diagonal parking space which keeps a steady flow of traffic throughout the lot. Since diagonal parking has dedicated one-way traffic, it makes it easier to see oncoming cars or pedestrians before you reverse out of the space. This enhances the safety of the lot and makes it easier on drivers to stay aware of their surroundings.
Another great technique to calm traffic is to narrow the lanes of traffic and build wider sidewalks. In places of high pedestrian traffic, the speed limits will be slow enough to drive safely down a narrow road. This encourages drivers to stay in their lane and to travel at a safer speed.
There are many other forms of lane narrowing, such as creating roadside parking, bus lanes, bicycle lanes, etc. All of these methods will improve the safety of pedestrians, especially when they have a wider sidewalk to occupy.
A very effective traffic calming technique is removing intersections and installing roundabouts when possible. Unlike a traditional intersection, a roundabout features a raised circular curb in the middle, which forces drivers to slow down before passing through it.
There are many cases where people want to speed through a yellow light before it turns red, which causes many accidents. Roundabouts restrict speeding through these high-traffic areas and create a safer place for pedestrians to use the crosswalks.
Raised medians are versatile and offer many safety benefits for drivers and pedestrians. A raised median runs parallel to the flow of traffic and keeps drivers from crossing to the other side. A larger median can act as a safety stop for pedestrians crossing the street. This is extremely helpful on wide streets where it cuts the distance in half for walkers to find safety.
It’s also convenient for people who cannot move quickly because it gives them more time to cross without being worried about two directions of traffic. Not to mention raised medians are a great space for aesthetic features such as trees, flowers, and sculptures.
Benefits of Traffic Calming
Traffic calming changes the behavior of drivers and keeps them more alert while driving. The more alert drivers are, the safer the area is for non-motorists. It also prevents reckless driving, such as swerving, passing, speeding, and other selfish forms of driving.
Other benefits include:
- Forces drivers to be alert
- Designated areas for pedestrians
- Fewer crashes
- Less severe crashes
Traffic calming truly does “keep people in their lane” and puts physical barriers between traffic and pedestrians. The great thing about traffic calming is that there are different techniques for different areas of travel. For example, roundabouts can be used in small towns, and raised medians can be used on busier highways, etc. Everywhere you can drive, there is a solution for calming traffic and enhancing the safety of the community.
Other Ways to Keep Traffic Zones Safe
Another common technique for keeping traffic zones safe is speed bumps. These require drivers to slow down and are great for neighborhoods and schools. Rumble strips are another surface-changing strategy to keep drivers paying attention. When drivers run over the strips, they create a strong vibration and loud noise to alert a potentially unaware driver that they are outside of their lane.
Sharp corner curbs are another incentive for drivers to slow down when taking turns. A lot of pedestrians go unseen while drivers are turning onto a new road, and sharp corner curbs restrict their speeds by making the turn much tighter.
Carolina Traffic Devices
We offer an extensive inventory of traffic control devices that can assist with your traffic-calming project. Alerting drivers of upcoming barriers and maneuvers is a great way to keep a safe flow of traffic and increase the safety of pedestrians. For more information about our traffic control products, contact us.