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Help Curb Speeding!

April 13, 2010

In 2006, America Walks adopted a position statement supporting speed reductions on our nation’s roads.  If a pedestrian and a driver suddenly find themselves on a collision course, the chances of one or both taking evasive action is high at 20 mph.  Not so at 30 mph or higher.  For example, a study in Orange County, California, found that an increase in the average speed from 20 to 30 mph in high-risk locations was associated with 7.6 times the risk of child pedestrian injuries. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that almost one-third of traffic fatalities are blamed on excessive speed.  NHTSA data also show that 53% of child pedestrian crashes were related to a midblock “dart-out” by the child.  In such a situation, vehicle speed will largely determine whether the collision can be avoided in the first place, or whether the child dies or recovers. 

The physics of speed and injuries respects no national boundaries.  In England, the British Medical Association has called for widespread 20mph zones on residential streets, and engineers are beginning to implement them there, as well as in other parts of Europe.  20 mph zones are best accomplished with street calming, and special signs or painted street markings.  Unfortunately, the cost of installing traffic calming devices in even one neighborhood can total hundreds of thousands of dollars.  As you may have read in our related story, the PedNet Coalition in Columbia, Missouri, showed it is possible to achieve residential street speed reductions simply through outreach and education. 

America Walks would like to help move the 20 mph zone concept “across the pond.”  Specifically, we’re interested in testing the PedNet approach in more communities.  If your group or city is interested in teaming with us on a grant application to conduct a pilot study in your community, please contact Vice President Andy Hamilton at ahamilton(at)americawalks.fabapps.com.  And do remember to slow down when you’re behind the wheel.