Brisbane City Council is committed to supporting a safer transport network through innovative road safety initiatives such as the popular Speed Awareness monitors (SAM) program. The acronym, SAM, is a short, fun and memorable way to encourage motorists to drive ‘Slow for SAM’ across Brisbane suburban streets.
When vehicles are travelling at or below the speed limit, SAM will display a smiley face to thank drivers for doing the right thing. If vehicles are travelling above the posted speed limit by up to 9 km/h, SAM will display the vehicle’s speed followed by a ‘slow down’ message, reminding motorists to reduce their speed and drive safely on our roads. If vehicles are travelling 10 km/h or more above the posted speed limit, only a ‘slow down’ message will be displayed.
All monitors are individually solar-powered and fitted with a Doppler radar, with a measuring range of 3 km/h to 255 km/h and an accuracy of +/-3%. They are limited to measuring only a single approaching vehicle at a time within its radar range. This range is up to 300 metres but is dependent on the vertical and horizontal road geometry, plus roadside objects such as trees and parked vehicles, which can limit this distance. Heavy rain also affects the monitor’s measuring distance.
Currently, there are 188 monitors in rotation at more than 775 locations across Brisbane. In addition, Council has commenced the delivery of 100 permanent SAMs near Brisbane schools over the next four years, to help create safer environments for students to travel to and from school. There has already been 31 SAM for Schools installed with the remaining 69 scheduled for installation over the next three years.
The SAM monitors, which have been well received by the community, were also recognised with the Road Safety Award at the 2018 Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia Awards for demonstrating innovation and safety improvements on our roads.
To further promote road safety and encourage motorists to be mindful of their speeds during the holiday seasons, Council will continue to temporarily give SAM a makeover during Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentines and other annual events, which receive an overwhelming positive reception from the local community.
Since installation in 2013, Council’s SAM signs have captured the data of more than 617 million vehicles, analysing trends in information such as passing speeds at various days and times. The data captured by SAM has demonstrated the success of the program, showing an average reduction of about 8.1 km/h by those initially alerted of exceeding the speed limit.
An independent study conducted by RACQ in June 2018 showed that approximately 63% of people agreed SAM had a positive impact on speed awareness and believed that the SAM monitors had more impact on motorist behaviour change than other speed signs. In addition, 71% of people also voted they would like to see more Slow for SAM signs in the community.
As the SAM program continues, Council will focus on improving data analysis to determine the most effective use of the signs. Alternative similar innovations are also being implemented including Wildlife Awareness Monitors at high-priority wildlife locations across Brisbane, in an effort to reduce animal strikes.