Reducing Speed and Improving Safety in Hammerwich A Messagemaker VAS Solution

15th December 2022

Reducing Speed and Improving Safety in Hammerwich

A Messagemaker VAS Solution

Melissa Barker Interviews Dave King

On the 8th of December, Melissa Barker, Marketing Assistant, visited Hammerwich to meet Councillor Dave King who had purchased a few speed signs from Messagemaker Displays over the years for the Parish Council. The Activated Speed Signs have had a positive impact on reducing speeding through the village with locals rejoicing their implementation.

What issues did Hammerwich face on their roads to start looking at road safety/speed solutions?

It is a common issue that motorists enter and leave villages from faster roads and do not alter their speed accordingly upon entering villages with low speed limits. In Hammerwich, motorists were entering from the M6 toll road and the A5 dual carriageway at high speeds, regardless of the 30mph speed signs.

Having regular speed watch sessions provided Cllr Dave King and the council with some accurate data on the average, top and bottom speeds of motorists. This data showed that the lowest speed was 36mph and the top speed a shocking 65mph.

Hammerwich Case Study - Melissa on site

Speedwatch is generally not very popular whilst the SIDs seem to be. Where the two villages merge into each other, at peak times we can have around 1000 vehicles an hour going through. When the traffic comes off the roundabout it goes along Highfields and Hospital Road,  this is where they start to speed up. Speeding has always been an issue.

Were concerns voiced by the local community? If so, what were people worried about?

The community was worried about reckless drivers going past the speed signs to see how high a number they could achieve on the sign, but this hasn’t happened in 3 years in which we’ve had the speed signs. There were also concerns about vandalism, which has not happened.

Why were LED speed signs considered a solution?

The speed watch program is run by volunteers, at best once a month, which means each road gets one hour every two months of speed monitoring, whereas Vehicle Activated Speed signs (commonly known as a SID) are there 24-7, they never rest. Hammerwich evaluated which roads had the fastest speeds to identify where speed reduction is most needed.

The SID now positioned at the top of the hill reminds passing motorists of the speed limit just as they are gathering speed to go downhill.  At the bottom, the mean average speed must have dropped from 45 down to about 38 – a significant drop.

Hammerwich Case Study - SAM sign maintenance

Were other solutions looked at? Whether LED or non-LED.

Cllr Dave King and the rest of the council had considered speed bumps, chicanes  and zebra crossings, but all these options were found to be too expensive. The cost-effective SID signs were a much better affordable option for the parish council.

Why was SAM model chosen?

The Parish Council looked at a few solutions but felt the SAM suited best due to the visual feedback provided through the happy and sad face on the basis that these can’t be missed when driving past.

“The signs ask you to respect the residents in the area in a subliminal way.” – Cllr Dave King

Why was the Solar  powered option chosen?

A Neighbouring village went with a cheaper option which was not waterproof and needed manual re-charging. Within two years they were fed up charging them, and the signs probably only worked once every two months. One day when the signs were opened up, the inetrnal components were covered in mould and were eventually scrapped.

Learning from their experience, HAmmerwich decided to go for an accredited supplier in Messagemaker Displays and opted for the solar power option to avoid having to manually charge the signs making them virtually maintenance-free.

What does Hammerwich like about the product?

One great feature of Messagemaker’s SIDs is the solar panel, which gives the benefit of knowing it will work 24 hours a day every day with no attention.

With parish council meetings taking place every month, prior to installing SIDs, there would have speeding complaints on the agenda at most meetings. Post SID installation, there were no complaints.

What would you improve about the product?

“Nothing! This kit is a great value for money and very effective in making our roads safer” – Cllr Dave King

What effect have you seen these have on your initial problem on your roads?

From the initial installation, there has been an instant change in traffic habits. After two years, the effect is still very very strong.

Have the signs been as effective as  hoped?

“The signs have met more than 110% of our expectations.”

Pre-SID installation, speed watch volunteers would record 45 to 50 speeding motorists per hour. Now when they report there is only about 15 speeding motorists per hour and very rarely get anyone doing over 40mph. Average speeds have dropped from about 40mph to 35 mph.

On the same road, the police used to pull 10/15 people in an hour. The last time they did, it was 2.

How does the local community feel now about the road safety issues compared to before the signs were put in place?

I have been a council member for 6 years and I came on board wanting to do something about speeding.
We have to be seen to spend money wisely. This is probably the best thing we have used the money for in 20 years. The bonus is we are probably saving lives.

A Summary from Cllr Dave King: “We thought the SIDs would be received well. Positive feedback to a council is quite rare. We had numerous emails and texts complimenting us on our initiative, and I cannot recall negative comments, (even from our Victor Meldrews). The signs have been revived far better than we expected. some feedback from our residents include:

  •  “I am impressed with the response shown by drivers.”
  •  “Public participation is the key, and we seem to be getting it.”
  •  “A young child in the village, comments to her parents we got a green smiley face.”
  •  “I got a smiley green face yesterday, quite pleased!”
  • “ I live on Highfields Road, I can’t believe what a difference the camera has made, not only to average speeds, but the noise level has gone down.”
Hammerwich Case Study - SAM sign

“Everybody likes it. It’s the ideal solution, made the road safer, quieter.”