Speed limit design the easy way – the proposal Vicroads rejected

Speed signs in urban areas are generally unnecessary, do a poor job at providing information because they are intermittent and contribute to danger via driving at the wrong limit, distraction and roadside hazards.   See post.  The design of the arrangements show a lack of imagination and thoughtfulness in design.

So how can it be done better?  A simple approach was put to Vicroads by submission to the 2011-2012 Victorian Speed Limit Review.  They say in the review report that limits should be “smarter, simpler and easier to follow” (p.7).  I agree.  However they rejected a proposal that would have achieved that and stayed with the signage approach and all its faults.

What is the speed limit on these roads?  There is no sign visible.  By the cues what would you say?


What about these roads?


If you guessed 50km/hr on the first set and 60km/hr on the second set you are right but you can not see a sign.   The difference is the line marking.  The simple way to indicate urban speed limits is by linking it to the line marking. Therefore:

  • Unless otherwise signed:
  • No lines=50km/hr.
  • Any centre line marking (dashes, double line, single line)=60km/hr.

The advantages are:

  • The speed limit information is continuously available.
  • Anytime you want to know the information is in front of you.
  • As you turn into another street the information is right there.
  • No need to look around for speed signs.
  • The correlation between the markings and current limits is very high hence most places would be the default and otherwise could remained signed.
  • The vast majority of signs can be removed.
  • A reduction in roadside hazards and clutter.
  • Recycle the steel into something useful.

So why did Vicroads reject this proposal?  It does everything the current system does, but better, easier, safer and cheaper.

About John Culvenor

Hi, Thank you for taking a look at this blog. I work in engineering, ergonomics, creativity, design, training, etc. Often this is about helping solve legal puzzles through accident analysis. Sometimes it is about thinking up better designs for equipment, workplaces, and systems. This blog is about good design and bad design, accident analysis and how it can be done better, and how we can make a better, safer world by design!
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