The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a study in July of this year which addresses the large role speeding has in auto accidents in the United States. At 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths, speeding ranked just as dangerous as drunk driving. However, the report claims that the role speeding plays in traffic safety is often underappreciated, especially on local roads. In fact, the Grand Haven Tribune reports that speeding-related fatalities were found to be three times higher on local roads than on highways.
The NTSB study also found that over half of all accidents were on rural roads, and 40 percent of injured victims of speeding were pedestrians, in non-speeding vehicles, or on bicycles. This makes the matter of special interest to advocacy groups seeking to protect users of the road who aren’t in cars. Scott Bricker of Bike Pittsburgh noted this in his statement, “With a livable speed, it will encourage more people to cycle and walk and feel safer in our streets. Most of all it will protect human life.”
Nor did these findings take Vision Zero Network, an organization working to reduce speeding-related fatalities to zero per year, by surprise. Their communications director, Kathleen Ferrier, is quoted as saying, “For so many years these fatalities have been one of those consequences of modern life. We drive, therefore people will die. But no, these deaths are preventable.”
Ways to Improve
The NTSB study included recommended means to prevent those deaths. One of those recommendations is the adoption of automated speed enforcement systems. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, Pennsylvania has made some use of these technologies, with limited availability of red light cameras and no law regarding the use of speed cameras.
The NTSB study urges all states to “Authorize state and local agencies to use automated speed enforcement” and to remove restrictions on their use where applicable and in line with best practices. This was in line with the report’s finding that traffic cameras are one of the most effective means of reducing speeding.
The report also advised a shift away from the 85th Percentile system, a means of determining safe driving speeds used across the country and founded on the idea that the speed at which 85% of traffic naturally flows is a safe and reasonable speed. The report countered this claim by noting that it lacked supporting evidence and fails to account for the safety of other users of the road, such as pedestrians and bicyclists.
Pennsylvania legislators and drivers need to be committed to the safety of everyone on local roads. When that commitment falls short and accidents happen, know also that there are options available to get justice, with the help of devoted legal representation.