The correlation between higher speeds and more deaths is clear, yet, despite the evidence, communities across the United States have continued to increase speed limits. Boston deserves credit for bucking this trend, especially when pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities are increasing nationwide (“Will city speed limit drop to 20 mph?” Metro, Aug. 28).
Last year, the city lowered urban speeds from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour, and a new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety report shows why doing so was the right move. After lowering speed limits, the odds of drivers speeding over 35 miles per hour on urban roadways dropped nearly 30 percent. This improves safety for motorists but especially helps protect pedestrians and bicyclists, our most vulnerable roadway users.
The study also reinforces the power of high-visibility enforcement campaigns to change behavior. Local authorities widely publicized the lower speed limits, and drivers responded accordingly. Further, the institute’s study underscores the power of the Vision Zero model, a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, now implemented in several cities across the country. Lowering speed limits is a proven countermeasure that puts us on the road to zero. If other cities follow Boston’s lead, roadways will be safer for all users.
Deborah A.P. Hersman
President and CEO
National Safety Council
The writer is the former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.