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Cape Town installs “smart speed signs” to reduce speeding

The City of Cape Town’s Urban Mobility Directorate has installed “smart speed signs” on High Level Road on the Atlantic Seaboard in a bid to reduce cases of speeding along the scenic access route.

The signs, located at plots 109 and 201, detect the speed of a vehicle and then display the reading on a Variable Message Sign for the driver’s attention.

“Vehicles travelling in both directions on High Level Road were speeding, so these innovative global best practice nudging techniques in speed control management were needed in both directions to affect a change in driver behaviour,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Mobility, Councillor Rob Quintas.

These signs have reduced cases of speeding by up to 25% in other countries, and the hope is that “if a driver sees the actual speed they are travelling on a 50km/h road it will create a front-of-mind message to slow down,” said Ward Councillor Ian McMahon.

“Should this initiative succeed, we would like to see more of these speed regulators installed to curb speeding.”

Cape Town cleans up its roads

The smart speed signs are the latest in a long line of initiatives Cape Town recently employed to improve the behaviour of drivers and the conditions of its roads.

In May last year, the City introduced a new traffic signal system with the aim of reducing confusion between motorists and public transport operators.

The previous system served both private vehicles and MyCiTi buses, which often led to normal cars mistakenly following signals meant for buses and causing easily-avoidable accidents.

The new lights do not display red, amber, or green, and are therefore less likely to be confused with normal traffic systems, said the City.

In June, the City announced that it will commence construction of a “freestanding elevated traffic circle” – the first of its kind in South Africa – as part of the MyCiTi bus route extensoin to the metro south-east.

“By separating the MyCiTi buses from general traffic, the City will ensure the service operates optimally between Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha and Wynberg and Claremont without being delayed by the traffic or congestion at the ground level of the intersection,” said Quintas at the time.

A month later, Cape Town installed in-road warning lights at key pedestrian crossings to encourage drivers to stay within the road markings, thus improving safety for walkers and cyclists.

In November, it launched a 24/7 “tech-led” highway patrol unit to conduct law enforcement activities and assist motorists on main arterial routes including the N2, N7, R300, and Mew Way, as well as assist specialist entities like the Ghost Squad where required.

The unit is geared with body cameras and automated number plate-recognition dash cameras that automatically track motorists with outstanding warrants, identify duplicate or cloned plates, and alert officers to stolen vehicles or vehicles that have been involved in criminal acts.

At the start of July 2023, the City also announced that it is bringing “traffic calming measures” on streets where it has identified vulnerable road users – which are generally in the vicinity of schools, hospitals, and old age homes.

The measures include new speed bumps, circles, pedestrian crossings, and signage; and will be applied in most areas in the Central, Eastern, Northern, and Southern Suburbs.

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