Speeding declined significantly in Boston, after the city lowered the limit to 25 miles per hour from 30 mph, according to new analysis from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released today.
Vehicles exceeding 35 mph after the change fell by 29.3%, while vehicles exceeding 30 mph fell by 8.5%, and vehicles exceeding 25 mph fell by 2.9%, according to the institute. Boston lowered the limit on Jan. 17, 2017. The findings were presented at the Governors Highway Safety Association meeting in Atlanta on Aug. 28.
"Speeding occurs on roads of all types, not just highways and freeways," said David Harkey, the institute's president. "Even on lower speed roads, speeding can have deadly consequences, especially for pedestrians and bicyclists. Some cities are lowering speed limits to reduce the risks for these vulnerable road users, who are increasingly dying in crashes."
With the study, the institute is hoping to support Vision Zero initiatives in cities, including Boston, New York, and Seattle, that seek to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries. The initiative began in Sweden.
Cities have faced high-dollar civil settlements and judgments as a result of city fleet vehicles, including public works vehicles, striking and killing pedestrians. Pedestrian deaths in the U.S. have increased 46% since reaching a low point in 2009 with higher rates of increases in urban areas. The faster a vehicle is moving, the less time the driver has to see a pedestrian and slow down or stop.
A pedestrian struck by a vehicle at 25 mph has a 25% risk of sustaining a serious or fatal injury. The risk increases to 50% at 33 mph and 75% at 41 mph, according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The National Safety Council applauded the study as a public awareness tool.
"This study serves as a reminder that raising speed limits is counterproductive and higher speeds bring greater risks, particularly to our pedestrians and bicyclists who are our most vulnerable roadway users. The study also reinforces the power of high visibility enforcement campaigns. When drivers are well-informed about changes to existing laws and the consequences of breaking them, they are more inclined to change their own behaviors and drive safer," according to a statement from the council.