Speed limits are increasing on more than 94 miles of streets across the city of Los Angeles, as announced by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Some of the streets that will have higher speed limits are among the deadliest in the city. Why is this when speeding is one the deadliest causes of traffic collisions on our streets? Higher speed limits have been determined to contribute to a lower rate of survival after a collision, especially if you are a pedestrian or a bicyclist hit by a car. The graphic below illustrates this:
So why would our city raise the speed limits on the most dangerous streets? They state that increasing the limits will make streets safer (?...), because it will allow law enforcement to hand out speeding tickets. According to current California law, speeding citations can only be issued on streets where speed studies have been done in the last 5-10 years. Los Angeles just completed these studies, which expired due to budget cuts.
Also under current law, Los Angeles also doesn't have the power to lower the speed limits on the majority of the streets, even if the road is in the high injury network or particularly dangerous. The state requires speed limits on city streets in California to set at the 85th percentile -- that is the speed that 85 percent of the drivers are driving at or below.
"The principal cause of people getting killed and seriously injured is speeding," says Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krikorian. "Speeding and distracted driving are sorts of things that can be addressed through greater enforcement, which has to be part of the strategy if we're going to acheive the goal of zero killed on LA streets."
Bottom line: While increased enforcement is great, it is just part of the solution and may not even be the strongest and most effective avenue to ending the death and injury on our streets. Education, awareness and stronger legislation as well as improving the condition of our streets are factors that need to be considered and improved.
I'll leave with a quote from the mayor of LA, "All of us know that this is our responsibility, not just the city's. It's on those of us using the streets, driving and walking. And I'll say this to the drivers of Los Angeles, you do not want to be responsible for someone's death on the streets."