Each year in the U.S., an estimated 46,000 people lose their lives in preventable traffic crashes. Each is someone’s friend, family member, classmate, or neighbor who will be deeply missed. These tragedies are disproportionately impacting people walking and bicycling, children, seniors, low-income community members, and people of color.
More than one-third of fatal crashes are speeding related. The most significant way to prevent traffic deaths and severe injuries is to manage speed for safety. In this series, we’ll explain why speed matters most and how policymakers and roadway designers can prioritize safety over speed.
Our bodies can only tolerate so much physical impact. Even small increases in vehicle speed significantly escalate risk of severe injuries and deaths. System designers and policymakers can use proven tools to encourage lower, safer speeds. Where there is a mix of people walking, biking and driving — 20 is plenty!
We will always face unpredictable, urgent reasons to stop. The speed we’re traveling can make the difference between life and death.
Traveling at higher speeds narrows your field of vision as you drive, making it more difficult to see and react to people in the roadway.
We know that people make mistakes, and we cannot prevent all crashes. But with Vision Zero’s Safe System approach we can design
streets, set speed limits, and implement policies that decrease speeds and lessen the likelihood and forcefulness of crashes.
Managing speed for safety is not rocket science. There are proven strategies to proactively encourage safe mobility, including self-enforcing street designs and policies, that lessen over-reliance on police enforcement and opportunities for racial bias.
We know what works to manage speed for safety. Now we need to develop the political will to change the status quo and implement what works to save lives. As with curbing smoking and other societal shifts, change is possible – by designing safer roads, lowering speed limits, and using smart technologies to influence behaviors and improve safety. Our policymakers and roadway designers have the power to prioritize safety over speed. Now, let’s bring the call for change.1