The significance of speeding on road trauma has been highlighted by the peak government transport agency in the USA for the first time in its 50-year history of road safety investigation.
Speeding is defined as exceeding the speed limit or driving too quickly for the conditions.
The new safety study “Reducing Speeding-Related Crashes Involving Passenger Vehicles” by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that speed of private vehicles in the USA causes nearly a third of all road fatalities.
This is an impact equivalent to alcohol in causing road trauma.
Furthermore, most speeding-related crashes involve speeding passenger vehicles not commercial vehicles.
The study found speeding “increases crash risk in two ways: (1) it increases the likelihood of being involved in a crash, and (2) it increases the severity of injuries sustained by all road users in a crash.”
This acknowledgement of the significance of speeding by the peak government road safety agency is a welcome turn of events says US cycling advocacy organisation, People for Bikes.
This significance has never before been explicitly acknowledged points out Michael Andersen.
People for Bikes expects this attention to speed should lead to a reevaluation of long-established norms of ‘natural’ speed limits, such as the appropriate speed deriving from the 85th percentile of the speed of free-flowing traffic on a given street.
We have long known that speed increases the severity of injury in a crash and the likelihood of death. It is also well established that high-speed lowers the amenity of roadways, discouraging people from riding there on on-road lanes, adjacent off-road path or walking on adjacent footpaths.
Which is why Bicycle Network has the on-going campaign, Low speed locals, with the aim of lowering speeds on local streets across Australia.
A speed limit of 60km/h on a road effectively establishes a vehicle monoculture on that route because all traffic apart from motor-vehicle traffic is discouraged. A network of 60km/h roads inhibits a bike riding culture and the healthy physical activity that that delivers.
Bicycle Network, on behalf of bike riders, says that on local streets with no separate space for people to ride bikes, we must lower speed limits to 30km/h.
Reducing speeds on local streets by 10km/h on local streets, from 40km/h to 30km/h, offers significant public health and safety benefits.
Lower speeds encourage more people, particularly kids and the elderly, to walk or ride their bike. The flow on effect is that local suburbs become healthier, happier and more connected as people become more physically and socially active.
Research from the Monash University Accident Research Centre also shows that slower speeds have little real impact on travel times.