National Transportation Safety Board Study Supports Automated Speed Enforcement
A study released this week by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), entitled Reducing Speeding-Related Crashes Involving Passenger Vehicles, identified speed-related deaths and injuries as an urgent and under-addressed national problem.
Every year in the United States, an estimated 10,000 people die as a result of speed-related collisions and local roads account for nearly three times as many deaths as highways. Despite this, California cities are barred from implementing proven technologies, such as Automated Speed Enforcement, to manage speed and protect public safety.
The NTSB study urges states to modernize their speed management practices, grant greater local control over speed limits and adopt the use of Automated Speed Enforcement technologies.
“We know that Automated speed enforcement (ASE) will reduce speeding and help prevent deadly vehicle crashes” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “But without a state law to regulate the use of ASE in California, this tool is not yet legal. We need to change that now—our communities should not have to wait any longer for this life-saving technology.”
"Speed kills. Sadly, we know too well that this is true across the nation, as more than 40,000 lives were lost last year and nearly one-third of those involved speed," said California Assembly Member David Chiu. Chiu championed a bill (AB342) this year to authorize a pilot for automated speed enforcement in two Vision Zero communities, San Francisco and San Jose. "Fortunately, there are proven strategies to address this public health crisis on our streets, including setting speed limits to prioritize safety and using sound technologies. Our communities deserve the ability to use these strategies to end the senseless and preventable loss of lives on our streets.”
“Studies show that, if a pedestrian is hit by a car traveling 40 miles per hour (mph), there is an 80 percent chance the pedestrian will be killed. However, if a driver strikes a pedestrian while traveling 20 mph, there is a 90 percent chance the pedestrian will survive,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “Streets in San Francisco with the highest incidence of fatal and severe injury crashes can benefit from Automated Speed Enforcement that enhances and complements traditional police enforcement by using cameras to enforce the speed limits.”
Since adopting Vision Zero in 2014, the City and County of San Francisco has upgraded its streets with safety and engineering improvements, launched enforcement programs and embarked on education campaigns aimed at addressing the leading causes of collisions on San Francisco’s roadways. The city has also expanded its data analysis capabilities to ensure that agencies can continue to develop and implement data-driven solutions. In the past three years, San Francisco has implemented more than 40 miles of safety improvements, including 1,600 separate installments on San Francisco streets annually. The city has also recently launched an anti-speeding campaign and initiated a pedestrian safety program called Safe Streets SF.
“Approximately 50 percent of the patients seen each year at Zuckerberg San Francisco General’s Level I Trauma Center are people injured in traffic crashes,” said Department of Public Health Director, Barbara Garcia. “Traffic deaths and injuries are a real public health issue and by targeting one of the leading causes of them – speed – we can move the needle on our Vision Zero goal.”
Local leaders and community members are already stepping up to fill what the study identifies as a leadership void at the national level. More than 20 U.S. cities have committed to the goal of Vision Zero — zero traffic deaths. Their efforts are focused on managing speed, a top predictor of injury severity, to save lives. Unfortunately, outdated standards and overly restrictive policies have limited cities’ ability to prioritize safety over speed.
“For far too long, our speed policies have been stuck in neutral at the expense of thousands of lives each year,” said Leah Shahum, Director of the national Vision Zero Network. “The NTSB study shows that the real responsibility for prioritizing safety over speed falls, not just to individuals, but also to the policymakers and government institutions that have let this public health crisis go unattended for too long.”
A speed-camera program in Montgomery County, Maryland, a Vision Zero community near Washington, D.C., has led to long-term changes in driver behavior and substantial reductions in deaths and injuries, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows. In the seven years after the program was implemented in 2007, the cameras have reduced (by 59 percent) the likelihood of a driver exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 mph. The camera program also showed a 19 percent reduction in the likelihood that a crash would involve a fatality or an incapacitating injury.
“Technologies like automated speed enforcement work,” added Shahum. By working together, elected officials at the state and local level can prevent the needless loss of life on our roadways.”