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  Neighborhood Speed Control

Methods of Speed Control:

The City’s most successful deterrent to speeding is the use of radar enforcement and the speed trailer. 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. It cannot be set up on streets where it will be even partially in the travel lane.

Pavement undulations are only used after all other efforts have been exhausted. In addition, they can only be installed on streets that meet established engineering criteria.

Neighborhood Involvement:

Many neighborhoods have homeowner associations or a neighborhood watch group. It is often helpful for these groups to circulate newsletters notifying all residents of any neighborhood problems including speeding. Many times area residents are unaware of their speed and its affect on their neighbors.

Commonly Requested Methods:

Stop signs are not successful in slowing traffic. 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 shows the installation is appropriate.

Posting of Speed Limits:

The following speed limits are defined in the California Vehicle Code and need not be posted for enforcement:

  • 55 MPH is the maximum speed limit in urban areas,
  • 25 MPH in business and residential districts,
  • 25 MPH in school zones when children are present, and
  • 15 MPH in alleys and at intersections and railroad crossings where visibility is very limited.
Other speed limits are established according to the Basic Speed Law. It states: "No person shall drive a vehicle. . .at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent. . .and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property."

Reasonable and prudent speeds are found by conducting traffic and engineering surveys. These surveys include an analysis of roadway conditions, accident records and a sampling of the prevailing speed of traffic. A safe and reasonable speed limit is set at or below the speed at which 85% of drivers travel.

Some residential streets are classified as "collector" streets. They serve as a link between residential streets and arterial streets. Collector streets are designed to carry more traffic than local residential streets. California law requires speed limits on collector, arterial and major arterial streets to be established according to the Basic Speed Law.

There are widely held misconceptions that lowering the speed limit will slow traffic. Before and after studies have shown that there is no significant change in prevailing speeds when the speed limit is lowered. 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.

Police officers may legally park out of sight for radar enforcement. A speed trap is created when the posted speed limit is not justified by a traffic and engineering survey. By State law, Police officers may not use radar to enforce the speed limit in a speed trap. Therefore, Police will not enforce unrealistic speed limits. This often results in an increase in the 85th percentile speed because the fear of receiving a speeding ticket is diminished without police presence.

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.

You may request enforcement by phoning the Transportation Division at 925-256-3529 or the Police Department Traffic Enforcement Division at 925-943-5844. 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 can be most effective.