Traffic calming set for a cerebral slant

Guidance on psychological traffic calming measures is to be issued to local authorities after research showed they are more popular than speed humps.

The Department for Transport (DfT) commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory to investigate the effect of psychological design principles on roads to reduce motorists' speed.

Methods included physically or visually narrowing roads and the use of road markings to create the perception of an uneven surface. One of the most effective measures proved to be narrowing roads with trees, which made drivers uncertain of road widths and forced them to slow down.

One test in Latton, Norfolk, saw average speeds fall by up to 8mph. Although more than half of vehicles still exceeded the 30mph speed limit, those exceeding 40mph fell from 50 per cent to around ten per cent.

Three quarters of the village's residents support the scheme, with about half thinking it is safer to cross the road than previously, according to the study.

A spokesman for the DfT said that it will publish the guidance next year.

He added: "These methods will not work everywhere and it will be up to authorities to decide whether they are appropriate."

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