Original post authored by Leah Shahum appeared March 23, 2021 on the Vision Zero Network
Communities Embrace Safe Speeds, Key to Safe System Approach
We are pleased to announce that three California communities have been selected to participate in a series of virtual workshops designed to develop and sustain effective speed management for safety programs.
Palmdale, Oakland and Kern County were selected through a competitive application process. Each community will participate in interactive virtual workshops addressing speeding-related issues specific to their communities in 2021. The workshops will cover the core elements of an effective Speed Management Program, discussion on how those elements can be applied through setting speed limits and traffic calming, group problem-solving, and support in developing the next steps toward action in each community.
The overarching goal of the program is to help California communities assess and leverage opportunities to make transportation safety improvements by achieving safe speeds.
Program organizers include the Vision Zero Network, Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), University of California, Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) and the Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety (CSCRS). Vision Zero Network and ITE led similar speed management workshops in Austin, Texas and Durham, North Carolina in 2019, with the support of the Road to Zero Coalition.
Speeding is estimated to be involved in nearly one-third of all traffic deaths in the U.S., according to NHTSA. And, tragically, the number of traffic deaths in the nation increased 8% in 2020 from the previous year, a disturbing 24% spike in the rate of traffic deaths. (More here)
The effort recognizes the growing interest throughout the State of California (and much of the nation) in proactively and effectively managing speed for safety, in part due to a report released in 2020 recommending shifts in policy and design guidance to effectively encourage safe speeds. In addition, legislation has been introduced at the California Legislature, as of March 2021, that aims to act on some of the report’s recommendations.
The three California counties selected to participate in the speed management workshops range in different contexts, though face many of the same challenges.
In Kern County, vehicle speeds were the leading cause of collisions during the past three years. The Kern County Public Works Department is invested in reducing collisions and intends to implement a speed management program to reduce future collisions and save lives.
Oakland’s urban arterials comprise most of the city’s High Injury Network – the 6% of city streets where 60% of severe and fatal crashes are concentrated – which disproportionately impacts low-income residents, communities of color and seniors. Oakland aims to develop a comprehensive, innovative, inter-agency speed management approach that prioritizes safety and equity.
Palmdale, which covers more than 500 miles of roadways, aims to build a strong toolset of speed management practices and boost knowledge to enact effective strategies citywide.
Managing speed for safety is one of the most critical and effective strategies of the Safe System approach and the goal of zero traffic deaths and severe injuries among all road users. Primary strategies include lowering speed limits and redesigning roadways for safe speeds. This approach emphasizes designing “self-enforcing roads” and setting smart policies that deter speeding, rather than over-depending on traditional enforcement and/or education tools.
To learn more about speed management for safety and the Safe System Approach, visit: