I live in a city where the police stopped enforcing traffic laws, so we’ve seen increased harm done by car drivers on people outside of cars. When the laws of the road aren’t enforced then drivers will break them – and more! So to make our streets safer politicians have turned to cameras.
Speed cameras automatically take a photo of a speeding car’s licence plate and send a fine to the owner. It’s a good simple system which generates revenue for cities while also encouraging drivers to not break the law and endanger their fellow citizens.
A systematic review published by the Cochrane Library in 2010 analyzed 35 separate studies from around the world and found average speeds in the vicinity of ASE cameras dropped by up to 15 per cent.
In some places, the proportion of motorists exceeding the posted speed limit declined by as much as 70 per cent, although most jurisdictions reported a reduction in the 10 to 35 per cent range.
The review also found a general reduction in collisions near speed cameras, with most jurisdictions reporting a drop of 14 to 25 per cent. There was a corresponding reduction in injuries and deaths.
This is a fun video exploring how we currently design streets for cars and how the Netherlands dealt with drivers. It’s sadly common that drivers steer their vehicles into buildings (maybe the buildings need to wear reflectors like cyclists?) throughout North America, despite the billions spent on roadways. Thankfully there are solutions to make streets safer for all users, as outlined in the video above.
You would think that cars regularly crashing into buildings would signal a problem to most people, but a lot of Americans and Canadians just accept it as normal. This is extremely rare in the Netherlands, and it’s due to safer street design that has come from a very different approach to road safety.
Bad urban design makes for poor living conditions and when cars are involved it can mean lethal conditions. As people know all to well, the last century’s bizarre love of the automobile has given us a lot of issues that we need to deal with today. Some solutions are really complex (like climate change) while others can be solved easily through simple design tweaks. One fast and easy way to save lives is to lower the speed limits on cars. Another simple solution is to stop designing our streets to allow cars to travel at high speeds. Cars kill, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Many people fear that slowing the speed limit in urban areas will dramatically increase journey time. However, average road speeds in cities are more determined by the frequency of intersections than speed limits. A safer speed limit can achieve more uniform speeds and reduce dangerous midblock acceleration, while adding little to overall journey times. Research from Grenoble, France has shown that a speed limit of 30 kmph (18.64 mph) rather than 50 kmph (31 mph) only added 18 seconds of travel time between intersections 1 km (.62 miles) apart. Lower speed limits may even reduce congestion in some cases, as they reduce the likelihood of bottlenecks. This has been observed in Sao Paulo, where lowering the speed limit on major arterials reduced congestion by 10 percent during the first month of implementation, while fatalities also dropped significantly.