Is making trips longer worth saving lives? The Mayor of the District of Columbia thinks so. In September, Muriel E. Bowser announced the speed limits on some of the city’s major streets will go from 30 to 25 miles per hour. The goal is to reduce the number of severe vehicle crashes as well as the injuries and deaths they cause.
Only a third of traffic accident deaths in DC this year involve those in vehicles. Twenty-four people were killed in crashes in DC this year, including 13 pedestrians and three bicyclists. This is five fewer people than last year, but the overall trend in recent years is increasing accident fatalities. Last year the city had the highest traffic deaths in 14 years.
The Faster Your Vehicle, the More Dangerous It Becomes
This isn’t just a Washington, DC, issue. No matter where you are, the faster your vehicle travels, the less control you have over it. It takes longer to stop, and you have less time to react to those around you. If you aggressively steer out of the accident, your vehicle may roll over. As your speed increases, so does the force of the accident. The chances of you or another person getting killed or severely injured increase.
Nationwide 11,258 people were killed in accidents in 2020 where vehicles traveled at unsafe speeds, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Kentucky Transportation Center estimates that from 2015 to 2019, there were 725 speed-related vehicle accidents in Hardin County.
NHTSA estimates that 29% of traffic fatalities were caused by speeding vehicles, and about a quarter of males 18 to 44 were speeding before a deadly crash.
Trying to Lower Injuries and Deaths by Decreasing Speed Limits
The DC changes are in effect on Connecticut Avenue NW and New York Avenue NE. The two streets carry nearly 100,000 vehicles each day and are major routes between Maryland and downtown DC, according to the Washington Post. The speed limit will decrease on two other corridors in the coming months.
The city claims slower speeds should improve safety and has cited successes in New York City and Seattle where speed limits are lower. The city also cites research showing pedestrians struck by slower vehicles are more likely to survive.
A significant issue isn’t accidents involving other vehicles. It’s vehicles striking bicyclists and pedestrians. Residents where routes cut through neighborhoods and with heavy pedestrian and bicycle traffic lobbied for the change, especially after many pedestrians were killed in vehicle accidents. Local law enforcement states speed is a factor in many of the city’s fatal crashes.
Will Lowering Speed Limits Save More Lives?
It’s not clear that new signs with lower speed limits will impact traffic without making physical changes to the routes, making it more difficult for drivers to speed. If a road is designed for high speeds, that may happen, no matter the posted speed limit. Some changes that may cut speeds include:
- Raised and high-visibility crosswalks
- Bollards (or vertical posts) that could keep vehicles out of bike lanes
- Speed bumps
- Reduced lane width
- More speed cameras and warning signs
Each community needs to find a balance between safety and ease of transportation. Despite having some of the worst traffic in the US, DC has decided more must be done to keep its residents safe.
Have or a Loved One Been Injured or Killed in a Car Accident in Kentucky and Need an Attorney?
Were you injured or a family member killed in a car accident by a speeding driver? Call The Fleck Firm at (270) 446-7000 and schedule a free consultation. We’ll talk about the accident, the law, and your best options to proceed. Insurance companies have lawyers. You should have one too.