TAC Application Guidelines for Speed Display Devices Approved

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Chief Engineers' Council of the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) has approved national guidelines for speed display devices.

Recommended by the Traffic Operations and Management Standing Committee, the ultimate objective of this project was to establish best practices and develop guidelines for speed display device design and application in a Canadian context. The new reference document will help encourage uniformity throughout Canada and should be used in conjunction with TAC's Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Canada.

Guidelines will be provided for:

  • Applications: Speed display devices in Canada should be used only for preventative safety applications and/or incident evidence-based applications. An overview of current applications of devices is included in the guidelines.   
  • Components: Speed display devices can include a static component and a dynamic component. Adding a static component to the dynamic component is not mandatory; however it may be required depending on the installation type and practices of each jurisdiction.
  • Installation: Speed display device installation guidelines include location and placement. Location guidelines cover general areas where installation is acceptable, taking into consideration physical, environmental, and operational factors. Placement guidelines cover three dimensions of positioning: longitudinal (along the roadway alignment), lateral (horizontal offset from the roadway) and vertical (height above the roadway surface).
  • Operation: The activated speed display device changes in response to the speeds of approaching vehicles. Guidelines for other operational parameters of the activated display are provided. Guidelines also suggest operations support required before, during and after activation.
  • Technology: As technology evolves rapidly, it is recommended to always use the most advanced technology when deploying speed display devices. Information about available technology equipment is provided in the guidelines.     

WSP Canada Inc. conducted the research work for this project.

Funding partners include Alberta Transportation; British Columbia Transportation and Infrastructure; Manitoba Infrastructure; New Brunswick Transportation and Infrastructure; Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal; Ministère des Transports, de la Mobilité durable et de l’Électrification des transports du Québec; Saskatchewan Highways and Infrastructure; Yukon Highways and Public Works; Insurance Corporation of British Columbia; Halifax Regional Municipality and the cities of Calgary, Kelowna, Montreal, Ottawa, and Surrey.

A notice will be posted on our website once the publication is released in the TAC Bookstore.


Dynamic speed display signs are being used in many jurisdictions across Canada. The devices display the speed of passing vehicles, typically along with a sign showing the posted speed limit. Intended to increase driver awareness of speed limits and to provide instant feedback to motorists by displaying the actual speed being travelled, the devices have been found to be effective shortly following installation. However some devices used in the field present excessive distraction potential and may not achieve their intended goal. The design, application and use of speed display devices are not covered by any current TAC guidelines.

If you have any questions or need more information, email Craig Stackpole.