Lower Speeds. Save Lives.
Gardner Massachusetts area cities and towns can immediately save lives by designating more side streets as safe zones. MA MGL C.90 S17C allows “thickly settled” cities and towns to adopt a 25 mph default speed limit by ordinance for all streets unless otherwise posted.
MA Cities and towns can also set 20mph safety zones, which they can use their own criteria to create. Many people don’t know that an 85 percentile rule has been used for ages in determining road speeds, effectively letting what speed a super majority of drivers drive to set the road speed. View NACTO 50 page report pdf. Many cities and towns indicate a desire to set road speeds based more on actual objective safety criteria.
Unfortunately, people tend to drive as fast as the law allows, so this hasn’t worked. Why are some proposed changes a good idea? It’s simple physics. According to the NACTO report, a person hit by a car at 35 miles per hour is 5 times more likely to die than a person hit by a car at 20 miles per hour. And “The Highway Safety Manual” cited by NACTO found that a 10% reduction in the average speed resulted in 19% fewer injury crashes, 27% fewer injury crashes, and 34% fewer fatal crashes. View Highway Safety Manual pdf. (1000+ pages)While they have been defeated in legislatures, proposals have been made in states such as Maryland to limit speed to 15mph in some residential areas.
Sadly, the U.S. has the highest traffic fatality rate in the industrialized world, double that of Canada, and quadruple that of Europe. So, is it unreasonable to ask folks to slow down in Greater Gardner MA residential areas and save some lives? Many would say, I think not.