Road Design, Speed Limits, and Car Crashes

[posted by Ben Larson, October 22, 2014]

portland-personal-injury-lawyer-ben-larsonWhile car accident fatalities and injuries have continued to climb in other countries, Sweden has been engineering around the problem, with a goal to eliminate car injuries and deaths altogether. The plan is called “Vision Zero” and has been in effect since 1997. Check out coverage of the plan at the blog of The Economist magazine.

The Vision Zero plan calls for lowered speed limits, pedestrian zones, bike zones, specialized turn lanes, highly visible road crossings and more pedestrian bridges. These measures hit home here at Dawson Law Group, as increased visibility and other such measures could have prevented serious injury and death in many of our prior car crash cases.

Compare these measures to the fact that Oregon and many other states have actually been discussing or implementing increased speed limits. During the recent Oregon gubernatorial debate, the topic was brought up again and neither candidate categorically rejected the idea. While the effects of increased speed limits is controversial, it’s clear there’s a correlation among high speed limits and increased traffic fatalities:

Speed and Fatalities
State Max Car Speed Limit Deaths per Billion Miles (2012)
Massachusetts 65 6.24
Oregon 65 10.13
Arizona 75 13.72
South Dakota 75 13.72
Kansas 75 13.25
Wyoming 80 13.27
Texas 85 14.29

[data source]

What’s clear is that Oregon will continue to experience a high number of serious injuries and deaths unless we take a comprehensive approach to traffic safety for all transportation user groups. There’s a blueprint for success in Sweden. Maybe it’s time for our politicians in Salem and Portland to copy it?