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Safe Speed Ads Hit the Airwaves

Monday, September 12, 2016

Cars and a truck travel northbound Masonic at Golden Gate.
Remember, if you don't see a different speed limit posted, assume it's 25 mph — SF's default speed limit.

Nearly 42,000 traffic citations were issued last year by the San Francisco Police Department for the top five traffic violation categories, and a quarter of them alone were for speeding.

Unsafe speed is also a leading cause of traffic deaths in the city. That’s why the city just launched a new round of radio ads focused on reducing speeding as the city pursues its Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2024.

Listen to the new Safe Streets SF 30-second radio ad.

On Aug. 4, Mayor Ed Lee issued an executive directive (.PDF) that included implementing a comprehensive awareness campaign focused on increasing understanding of Vision Zero and improving traffic safety on San Francisco streets.

The Vision Zero team launched the first round of that campaign in August with a series of 15-second radio spots in English and Spanish to do just that. Now we’re following up with the launch of a new round of radio ads designed to focus attention on safe speeds.

Speed is a crucial factor in collisions. Research has shown that lowering speeds dramatically improves the likelihood someone will survive a collision. If you’re hit by a car going just 5 mph over the 25 mph speed limit, your chance of survival drops by half. 

The Safe Speeds SF campaign was developed with feedback from focus groups and communitywide research polling. In this research, we found that while people feel that speeding is frowned upon in San Francisco, it is often perceived as something that only happens on freeways or outside of city limits. Additionally, drivers tend to consider themselves as above average in skill and therefore believe they don’t need to drive the speed limit.

The September campaign is designed to inform or remind drivers that: 

  • The speed limit in San Francisco is 25 mph unless posted otherwise
  • Small increases in speed are directly related to having less control when stopping and seeing pedestrians that might be in harm’s way.
  • Traffic deaths are a problem in our city.

Focus group participants who were frequent drivers in the city identified this approach as powerful, engaging and informative.

The first of these new round of ads began airing last week during drive time, as well as on Pandora and Spotify in San Francisco. They will run in English, Spanish and Chinese. You can listen to the English version online.

Starting in October, a third round of ads will be coupled with strategic police speed enforcement on key corridors with demonstrated high rates of speeding.