A new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) finds that excessive vehicle speed is a persistent factor in nearly one-third of all motor vehicle-related fatalities.
“Speeding Away from Zero: Rethinking a Forgotten Traffic Safety Challenge” provides details of the latest available data and research, federal and state policies, existing programs to reduce speeding-related crashes, and promising future approaches.
“If we want to get to zero deaths on our roads, we need to address speeding on a much deeper and more comprehensive level than we have been,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “This clear and present danger on our roadways makes it imperative to devote additional resources toward getting drivers to slow down in order to save lives.”
The report highlights that speeding by motorists threatens the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists by not only increasing the chances of a crash, but also increasing the risk of serious injury or death when crashes occur. On the other hand, even small decreases in travel speed can reduce crash and injury severity and save lives.
Some urban areas have had success in reducing vehicle speeds (for example, by lowering the speed limits in New York City and Boston), yet a greater proportion of speeding-related fatalities occur on rural roadways, claiming more than 5,000 lives in 2016 alone. Vision Zero efforts have been at the forefront of steps to curb speeding in cities, and GHSA says it hopes to see this concept and its principles spread to more suburban and rural jurisdictions across the country.
The GHSA report provides several recommendations to reduce speeding. Suggestions consist of federal legislative and programmatic prioritization, more aggressive and sustained law enforcement efforts (including automated speed enforcement), and engineering the built environment for safer speeds through roundabouts and other traffic calming elements.