Speed awareness monitors - drive slow for SAM | Brisbane City Council

Speed awareness monitors - drive slow for SAM


Brisbane City Council’s Speed Awareness Monitors program, previously known as portable speed warning signs, is part of Lord Mayor Graham Quirk’s commitment to making Brisbane’s suburban streets safer.

The program also aligns with Council’s Transport Plan for Brisbane – Strategic Directions to implement local safety improvements in residential neighbourhoods, school zones and high pedestrian activity areas.

The speed awareness monitors, known as ‘SAM’, aim to change motorist behaviour and reduce speeding in our suburbs.

When cars are travelling at or below the speed limit, SAM will return a smiley face, as a way to thank drivers for doing the right thing. If cars are travelling above the speed limit, SAM will display a ‘SLOW DOWN’ message, reminding motorists to reduce their speed and drive safely on our roads.

Since the program launched in November 2013, motorists travelling above the speed limit reduced their speed by an average of more than 8km/hr across all sites after passing the monitors. There are currently more than 100 monitors in place across Brisbane.

Let’s all work together to reduce our speed, get home safely and keep SAM smiling.

How locations are selected

Speed awareness monitors are not suitable for all locations within the road network. A list of possible locations for the speed awareness monitors are provided by local councillors, resident feedback and Council’s Transport Planning and Strategy (TPS) branch. A site assessment is undertaken to determine if an appropriate physical location can be found. Factors considered in the site assessment process include:

  • visual impact on adjacent residents
  • sufficient vehicle visibility (presence of obstructions such as trees and other traffic signs)
  • clearance from driveways and infrastructure such as power poles and service pits
  • clearance from low-hanging power lines and television cables
  • adequate sunlight for the sign's solar panels
  • separation between other traffic signs to ensure drivers have sufficient time to read messages.

Speed awareness monitors are expected to be installed for at least one month before moving to a new location. This will allow enough time to have a positive impact on motorist behaviour. Monitors may return to a previously installed location if speeding becomes an issue again.

How the monitors work

As a motorist approaches the monitor, their speed is detected by a radar and one of the following three messages is displayed:

  • if the motorist is driving at or below the posted speed limit, a smiley face message is displayed
  • if the motorist is driving above the posted speed limit by up to 9km/hr, the vehicle's speed is displayed followed by a ‘SLOW DOWN’ message
  • if the motorist is driving 10km/hr or more above the posted speed limit, only a ‘SLOW DOWN’ message is displayed.

The speed readings are not used to issue any infringement notices. The purpose of the monitor is to alert drivers to their speed. 

Impacts during construction

Every effort will be made to minimise disruption to the local community during this work. Local residents will be notified of monitor installation in advance. Installation of the speed awareness monitors involves the construction of a small concrete foundation below the ground on Council owned land. The platform has a lid and sits flush with ground level. Once the monitor is removed, the lid will remain. This means that the site can be used again if speeding at this location becomes an issue.

Suggest a new location

If you would like to suggest a new location for a speed awareness monitor, please contact your local ward office.

More information

If you would like to find out more about the speed awareness monitors program, you can:

  • phone Council on 07 3403 8888
  • email the project team
  • write to:
    Speed Awareness Monitors project
    Transport Planning and Strategy
    Brisbane City Council
    GPO Box 1434
    Brisbane Qld 4001
05 November 2018