Differential effects of traffic sign stimuli upon speeding in school zones following a traffic light interruption

Bree Gregory, Julia D. Irwin*, Ian J. Faulks, Eugene Chekaluk

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Motorists whose journey has been interrupted by signalized traffic intersections in school zones resume their journey at a faster vehicle speed than motorists who have not been required to stop. Introducing a flashing "check speed" sign 70 m after the traffic intersections counteracts this interruptive effect. The present study examined which aspects of a reminder sign are responsible for reducing the speeding behavior of interrupted motorists. When a sign that combines both written text and flashing lights was introduced, interrupted motorists did not speed, traveling on average 0.82 km/h below the 40 km/h speed limit when measured 100 m from traffic intersections. Alternatively, when only the flashing lights were visible the interrupted motorists sped 3.36 km/h over the 40 km/h speed limit. Similar vehicular speeds were observed when only the written text was visible and when no sign was present (7.67 and 7.49 km/h over the 40 km/h speed limit, respectively). This indicates that static reminder signs add little value over the absence of a school zone reminder sign; the presence of both cues is necessary to fully offset the interruptive effect. This study also highlights the benefit of using exogenous visual cues in traffic signs to capture drivers' attention. These findings have practical implications for the design and use of traffic signs to increase compliance with posted speed limits.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)114-120
    Number of pages7
    JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


    • Traffic signs
    • Prospective memory
    • Interruption
    • Speed management
    • School zones


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