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Demonstration and Evaluation of the Heed the Speed Pedestrian Safety Program
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  • Publication/ Report Number:
    DOT HS 811 515 ; 216-1 ;
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  • Edition:
    Final report; 9/16/05-9/15/10.
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  • Abstract:
    This study built upon the work of Blomberg and Cleven (2006) in Arizona, where they developed and pilot-tested the concept of Heed the Speed, a neighborhood-based combination of enforcement, education, and modest engineering designed to reduce vehicle speeds to benefit pedestrian safety. The current program was expanded and applied to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in an attempt to determine if reducing speeds in neighborhoods would lead to a reduction in pedestrian-involved crashes. The study attempted to increase speed enforcement by the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) in six police districts by purchasing 24 Speed Tracker units that were installed and calibrated in four police cars in each of the six police districts. Since Pennsylvania law prohibits the use of radar by local police, the availability of the Speed Tracker timing devices provided the PPD with additional capability to document speed violations. It was hoped that publicizing this capability would deter speeding in the test districts. The Philadelphia Streets Department focused its efforts on engineering countermeasures in the six target police districts. Street Smarts, the city’s safety education contractor, distributed pedestrian safety information throughout the city; however, community involvement in the targeted districts was limited. The evaluation of the program showed speed reductions at 17 of 24 measurement locations. However, no crash reductions were observed in the six districts relative to the remainder of the city. Also, an awareness survey showed little penetration of the safety messages or awareness of increased speeding enforcement by the police. This is not surprising given the lack of paid media, the sparse enforcement that was actually mounted in the test districts, and the assessment of awareness at licensing centers outside the test districts. Overall, the results indicate that a direct scale-up of Heed the Speed as used in targeted Arizona neighborhoods to a city the size of Philadelphia is likely not realistic given the resources required. The study also suggested that the inability to use radar as an enforcement tool was not totally overcome by the use of quantitative speed timing devices. Either the techniques should remain as originally developed and only be applied on a road-segment-by-road-segment basis, or the Heed the Speed toolkit should be expanded to address the unique situations and constraints of large, congested cities where speeding is not an enforcement priority.

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