Call for better support for Community Speed Watch groups

70% of speeding motorists agree that seeing Community Speed Watch activity would make them drive slower in future

30 speed limit sign

A new report by Staffordshire University highlights the positive impact of Community Speed Watch volunteers

This research has provided much needed insight into the role and value of CSW from the perspective of volunteers, drivers and identified offenders. There is still much more to be done in this area to better understand the effectiveness of CSW as a speed safety measure, but we hope this work kickstarts further research.

Dr Leanne Savigar-Shaw, lead researcher

Community Speed Watch (CSW) is an approach to tackling speed in local communities where volunteers, supported by their local police force, monitor vehicle speed and report offending vehicles.

The findings are part of a new report by Staffordshire University which highlights the positive impact of CSW volunteers and identifies opportunities for the police service to benefit further from the skills and resources that they bring.

Funded by The Road Safety Trust, the research explored the effectiveness of CSW in reducing speeds within Gloucestershire and its ability to engage drivers and communities.

66% of offenders who had been identified exceeding the speed limit via CSW activity agreed that it is a useful way of tackling speed and 59% agreed that CSW teams do a good job of keeping communities safe.

72% of offenders agreed that receiving a warning letter through CSW made them want to change their driving. The report found that drivers who received a letter reduced their average speed in the four months after receiving that letter. In comparison, when drivers did not receive a letter their average speed reduced less, or even increased.

In interviews and focus groups with CSW stakeholders, the scheme was described as “empowering” for community members and that it helps to evidence where there is a speeding problem.

However, the report suggests that relationships with the police, highways departments and other relevant organisations was inconsistent across CSW groups and that members wanted more police enforcement activity to complement their own.

Questionnaires completed by people living in communities that use CSW showed the majority agreed that CSW plays an important role in tackling speed, makes them feel safer in their community and would like more CSW activity to take place.

With regards to the effectiveness of CSW, there appear to be short-term benefits to average speeds, although longer-term trends fluctuate and more research is needed to understand the effectiveness of CSW on driver speeds.

When using CSW cameras, having signage and local promotional material of the CSW scheme was found to be important. The percentage of vehicles driving over the speed limit by more than 5mph was lowest (6%) when used in this way.

Moving forward, the report highlights the importance of ensuring consistency in communication, including clearly verbalising the aims of CSW activity to volunteers and the wider community as well as using organised communication strategies to improve public perceptions of CSW.

Lead researcher Dr Leanne Savigar-Shaw, from Staffordshire University, said: “This research has provided much needed insight into the role and value of CSW from the perspective of volunteers, drivers and identified offenders.

“There is still much more to be done in this area to better understand the effectiveness of CSW as a speed safety measure, but we hope this work kickstarts further research. We have produced recommendations to support police forces and volunteers in developing their CSW practice.”

Discover more about the project on the Road Safety Trust website or download the full report and project infographics.

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