Neighborhood Speed Watch Programs

Neighborhood Speed Watch programs, a traffic-related variation of Neighborhood Watch or Crime Watch, encourage citizens to take an active role in changing driver behavior on their neighborhood streets by helping raise public awareness and educate drivers about the negative impact of speeding. In these programs, residents record speed data in their neighborhood using radar units borrowed from a city or county law enforcement agency. Residents record the speed and license plate information of speeding motor vehicles. This information along with a letter is sent to the owner of the vehicle informing them of the observed violation and encouraging them or other drivers of their vehicle to drive at or below the posted speed limit. This type of awareness encourages some speeding motorists to slow down. Motorists also learn that residents will not tolerate speeding in their neighborhoods.

The organization of neighborhood speed watch programs can vary. Some jurisdictions have “Citizen’s Patrol” elements in the police department and others have neighborhood volunteers to oversee the program.

Sign reads "Residential Speed Watch Program"

County of Sacramento, CA.

In Sacramento, CA a member of the County Traffic Engineering Section meets with interested residents, teaches them how to use the radar equipment and collect data, and explains appropriate ways to interact with motorists. The County loans a radar unit to a group representative and volunteers use it to record speeds and license numbers of vehicles exceeding the speed limit. The County sends letters to violators and asks them to slow down.

Sign reads "Neighborhood Speed Watch Program"

Greensboro, NC.

In North Carolina, the City of Greensboro’s Department of Transportation will loan a radar gun and trailer display unit to citizens to monitor speeds along their street. The unit displays the speed limit for the street and the travel speed of passing motor vehicles, and volunteers record the speeds.

Programs have also been implemented in Seattle, Washington and Montgomery County, Maryland (Seattle Department of Transportation; Montgomery County (MD) Department of Public Works and Transportation, 1998).

Tool: Speed watch program


Neighborhoods work with police to observe motor vehicle speeds.


  • Residents become aware of local traffic issues.
  • Police gain additional information regarding problems.
  • Peer pressure is placed on speeders.


  • Needs police personnel to work with neighborhoods.
  • Requires radar guns or other