BY KATHLEEN FERRIER, Vision Zero Network
We commend the work of the National Transportation Safety Board in issuing recommendations to dramatically reduce speed-related deaths and injuries and urgently raise public understanding of the deadly toll this under-addressed problem is taking nationwide.
In its landmark speed study, the NTSB, the nation’s leading authority on crashes and prevention strategies, called for stepped-up national leadership and modernization of speed practices, including a multi-modal approach to set speed limits and use of proven technologies such as automated speed enforcement, among other effective countermeasures championed by a growing number of Vision Zero communities.
“For too long, speed policies have been stuck in neutral, at the expense of more than 10,000 lives lost each year,” said Leah Shahum Director of the national Vision Zero Network, a non-profit promoting the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries. “Attention to this problem is long overdue. This study should be a wake-up call to allow local communities the ability to manage speeds to save lives.”
NTSB identified dangerous speeds as an under-appreciated problem despite the fact that it is poses one of the greatest threats to public safety. More than 112,000 people died in speeding-related crashes in the U.S. from 2005 to 2014, averaging more than 10,000 deaths each year. This is on par with the number of drunk driving fatalities during the same time period, NTSB reported, yet receives far less attention. The impacts of speeding also come with an economic cost estimated at $52 billion in 2014, compared to $44 billion in losses from drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Proven policies to reduce speeding in our communities have been held hostage at the expense of more than ten thousand lives lost and many more lives permanently altered each year,” said Shahum. “The real responsibility of prioritizing safety over speed falls not just on a driver’s behavior, but also on our policymakers and government institutions that have let this problem to fester for too long. If NTSB’s recommendations are implemented, many fewer people will suffer and die needlessly.”
In its study, NTSB prevails on states to modernize speed practices and affirms the effectiveness of proven speed control technologies such as safety cameras, lower speed limits, and improved street design.
All of these tools are instrumental to reaching zero deaths and serious injuries. Where the majority of fatality crashes occur on local roads, local governments need the ability to set their own speeds. For too long, this hasn’t been possible. Luckily, implementing recommendations outlined in the report will change this.