Speeding is one of the major factors in severe car accidents across America. While a crash can occur at any speed, the rate of injuries increases with each additional mile per hour—especially if the person injured is a child or pedestrian. In an effort to bring down traffic fatalities, many municipalities have opted to lower existing speed limits, reducing both serious injuries and the number of car accidents on city streets.
Lowering Speed Limits Is an Effective Way to Curb Crashes
Many U.S. cities, including Fort Lauderdale, New York, Boston, and Washington D.C., have lowered speed limits as part of the Vision Zero program. Pioneered in Sweden in the 1990s, Vision Zero aims to prevent crashes by working with drivers and lawmakers to reduce traffic injuries in areas where cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians share the road.
Lowering speed limits is one of the tenets of the Vision Zero program, and can have a significant impact on:
- Drivers. Deaths due to traffic accidents increased 6 percent in 2016, with U.S. accident fatalities reaching over 40,000 for the first time in 10 years. Lawmakers in Washington D.C. have responded by lowering the speed limits in neighborhoods where speeding has consistently contributed to crashes by 5 or 10 miles per hour.
- Pedestrians. People who walk or ride bikes lack any real protection from the effects of a crash, and are more likely to be seriously injured by high speed drivers. Researchers estimate that pedestrians who are struck by vehicles traveling at 20 mph have a 90 percent chance of survival; if the vehicle is traveling at 50 mph, the chance of survival drops to only 25 percent. Vision Zero takes a close look at problem areas, lowering speed limits in specific locations with heavy pedestrian traffic.
- Children. Many participating cities have lowered the default speed limit on neighborhood streets and in school zones to prevent collisions with children. Some have even established time-sensitive speed zones around schools and parks, lowering the speed limit during hours when families and children are more likely to be crossing the streets.
While lowered speed limits have proved effective in many countries, some people object to the idea due to longer commuting times or increased traffic fines. What do you think about the practice? Do you believe we should lower speed limits in Daytona Beach? Please leave a comment or share this article on Facebook to weigh in on the debate.