Updated: Feb 16, 2021
Blog post by Rolf Eisinger, DOTI Vision Zero Program Manager
Last year I had the pleasure of attending the 2020 Vision Zero conference, hosted by The Vision Zero Network. The network shifted gears to offer it exclusively in a virtual platform, as COVID-19 didn’t make it feasible for travel.
The conference highlighted COVID-19’s effects on traffic safety, specifically how the response to the virus has lowered traffic volumes and yet increased speed. Related to that, the conference also highlighted how vehicle speed is a key factor in crash frequency and severity. As noted in the conference, the faster a person drives, the less detail they’re able to see in their peripheral vision. How does this play out? On a residential road, a driver may not see what’s happening on a sidewalk or at intersections, but instead only seeing what’s directly in front of them (traffic signals or other vehicles).
In addition to that, as speed increases, so does the stopping distance. Regardless of driver’s skill, the stopping distance remains the same as it relates to their speed. Speed is also a key factor in the severity of a crash. The diagram below compares the height of falling to speed impact. If a person is struck by a vehicle traveling 10 MPH, it would be comparable to a person falling from a 3 ft desk. In comparison, being struck by a vehicle traveling 30 MPH would feel like falling from a 30 ft building.
“As vehicle speeds increase above 15 mph, crashes quickly get deadly. If you’re hit by a car at 15 mph, you’ll likely recover. At 45 mph, you’re dead. Reducing speeds is a critical step to saving lives,” said Jeffrey Tumlin, Director of Transportation, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). - NACTO City Limits
For more information about speed management, check out NACTO’s recent publication: City Limits, an Innovative Framework to Set Safe Speed Limits on City Streets
Rolf attended the 2020 Vision Zero Cities conference as part of the Denver CALC scholarship program: we cover your registration fee for trainings and conferences, and ask that in return you share your experience in the form of a short blog to educate coalition members. If you or someone you know would like to participate in this program, please check out this link to learn more and fill out the easy application today!