Zeroing In On Road Safety

Anna Maria Barry-Jester points overseas:

The Netherlands and Sweden have overhauled the design of their roads and cities, resulting in enormous declines in motor vehicle fatalities. In urban areas, curbs are removed, giving the perception of shared space (though cyclists, pedestrians and cars are still separated), which encourages drivers to slow down. And in most of Europe, driving lanes are much narrower, which also fosters slower travel. In Sweden, a program called Vision Zero treats all traffic fatalities as preventable, and this idea has recently crossed the ocean to U.S. cities.

NYC has been introducing new traffic laws along similar lines. The effects thus far:

[The citywide speed limit reduction to 25 mph] was the most public of Vision Zero’s initial changes, but to date, 29 of its 63 initiatives have been implemented. Preliminary data suggests the program may be paying off: 2014 saw the lowest number of pedestrian deaths since the city started keeping records in 1910. New York also had a decline in overall motor vehicle deaths from previous years. But with 134 pedestrian deaths and 250 overall, the city is a long way from zero.

Data released Tuesday by the New York City Department of Transportation also showed that controversial speed cameras near schools may be working to slow traffic at the 19 sites where they have been placed since September. Overall, there was a decline of 58.7 percent in the number of daily speeders found on these cameras (which ticket only at speeds of 10 mph above the posted speed limit), with individual cameras’ declines ranging from 21 to 75 percent. This suggests the mere presence of the camera can help reduce speeds.