BY DANIEL C. VOCK, Governing
A new study out of Washington is rarely a cause for celebration, but many traffic safety groups are excited about a forthcoming report that highlights the big role speeding plays in traffic deaths.
The study comes from the National Transportation Safety Board, an agency best known for its investigations of deadly plane crashes and train derailments. The NTSB has also been a force behind safety innovations, like air bags in cars and graduated driver’s licenses for teen drivers.
Researchers have actually underestimated how often speed is a factor in fatal crashes, according to a summary of the report, which will be released in full in coming weeks. That’s significant, considering that speed is already one of the most widely reported causes of deadly crashes. In 2015, for example, it was identified as a factor in roughly as many traffic deaths (9,557) as alcohol (9,306) or people not wearing seat belts (9,874).
But the NTSB went further, by urging traffic engineers to rethink how they set speed limits and for states and localities to use speed cameras more often. NTSB wants law enforcement agencies to mount a national anti-speeding campaign, akin to “Click It or Ticket” for seatbelt use. The agency also wants carmakers to install features to alert drivers when they’re going over the speed limit and maybe even slow them down automatically.