A recent Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report shows that the U.S. pedestrian deaths hit a 28-year high last year. The GHSA estimates that from 2008 to 2017, pedestrian fatalities increased by 35% and since 2013 the number of pedestrian fatalities involving an SUV increased by 50%. The report points out the need for comprehensive infrastructure, education and enforcement strategies to reduce the number of fatalities. Among the strategies proposed to reduce the numbers of traffic fatalities are reducing speed limits and increased enforcement of speeding in pedestrian zones.
Some car manufacturers are taking steps to address the issue of speeding. Volvo recently announced that it will implement a 112mph speed limit on all model year 2021 cars to reduce traffic fatalities. While the 112 mph is still clearly beyond the limit of what is even allowable on our roadways, it is a start in acknowledging the high number of traffic fatalities. Volvo is also exploring using a combination of smart speed control and geofencing technology to automatically limit speed around schools and hospitals.
Speeding is not an issue only in the U.S. Europe has been confronted with this issue for a while, and there were even proposals to limit speed on the famous Autobahn. However, a large number of people in Europe agree that speeding is a problem and they agree new measures to reduce speed limits are needed. The European Parliament is proposing new vehicle safety standards that could include the mandatory installation of Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) in all new cars. The ISA will use software to read speed limits off of road signs and use GPS data where road signs are not available. It is estimated that this technology will reduce the number of deaths on European roads by 20%.
This technology will help in reducing fatalities, but technology alone is not going to solve the problem. A systems approach including a focus on engineering, education and enforcement will be needed. Vision Zero, Complete Streets and Street Smart Campaigns all have a role in making our roads safer for all users. But it shows that people and authorities see how serious the issue of speeding is and that they are willing to try multiple approaches to reduce the number of traffic deaths.
Let’s all look out for each other and stay safe!