Saturday, December 12, 2009

Driving like Grandma II

I've joined Sean in the driving-like-grandma club.

The numbers are dramatic:

1 in 5: your chances of being killed in a 30mph accident.

1 in 40: your chances of being killed in a 20mph accident.

40%: reduction in deaths in areas with 20mph limits.

More info? Read this article on the BBC website.

If you read it and you don't embrace roadway changes that induce lower speeds, then I don't know what to say.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

WOW! You mean that reducing the speed limit works? Cool. 'cause we've spent the last 4 or 5 years listening to Roche tell us that only a dangerous road obstruction would slow cars. How did these folks get it past their own MUTCD toting residents? Or do they have that cross to bear? Maybe some enforcement. The same thing the neighborhood has been a proponent of for the last number of years.

Steve Runge said...

Anonymous,

Well, actually, just changing the speed limit signage and intensifying enforcement hasn't been found to be very effective, in quite a few studies. I was curious, myself, about the 20mph zones; I rather suspect there's more to them than signage, but not having had access to the full text of the study (in the British Medical Journal), I don't yet know.

Here's the relevant quote from an article referring to the same study:

"Given that Grundy and colleagues’ study was not randomised, the observed benefits may reflect, at least in part, the effects of cointerventions (such as speed detection devices) and other components of area wide measures to calm traffic. Interventions that seek to change driving and travel behaviour, land use, and societal norms are likely to be complex. A previous review suggested that although 20 mph speed limit signs used alone reduce average speed only minimally, their use with other traffic calming measures (such as road humps) could reduce average speed by 10 mph."

(You can read the whole article here:
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/339/dec10_3/b4743)

I'm hoping the actual study results include in them some descriptions of the 20mph zones under study, so that we can learn something about how London has achieved actual speed reductions. If in fact they've achieved it with signage and enforcement, I'd welcome those changes in Newton on residential streets.

If that's the case, would you, Anonymous, be willing to join an effort to have the default speed limit in Newton ("unless otherwise posted") be lowered to 20? And would you be willing to assist an effort to intensify enforcement, especially on school routes and in village downtowns?

Anonymous said...

Sure, I'll go along with lowering the speed limit, especially around schools. Maybe the traffic council could be challenged to come up with a better plan, rather than going through a recital of warrants not being met prior to turning down those types of requests. Several folks had talked about enforcing the speed limit via automated devices to capture the license plate number.

Sean Roche said...

Unfortunately, municipalities cannot set speed limits on individual streets without state approval. Efforts to lower the current state default speed limit have been unsuccessful.

Steve Runge said...

Well, in that case, the choice is between enforcing existing speed limits, which are too high (25 mph zones rarely produce speeds under 30 mph, even with enforcement) or making roadway changes that reduce average speeds.

I guess there's a third path of attempting to get state approval for lowering the speed limits, but I'd wager making roadway changes would be easier, especially as neighborhoods acclimatize to their benefits.

Anonymous said...

MUTCD? The Brits never paid much attention to US Federal documents, but those who are familiar with British engineering standards might guess that they have even more rules and procedures in place regarding roadway signs than we do.

A 20 mph school zone? What a novel idea! Oh wait, we have that already in the US.

Have you ever driven in England? Besides driving on the wrong side of the road, there are plenty of conditions which lend themselves to slower driving in their cities. Many of the roads were designed centuries ago, and are much more narrow than US streets are laid out. It's not uncommon to see roads reduced to a single shared lane for two way travel, in cities or in rural 'lanes'. Seriously. Someone is coming? One car must pull over. If a 20 mph speed limit matches the roadway conditions, it's got a much better chance of working. And yes, traffic calming devices are extremely common in England.

Anonymous said...

Mister Traffic Taliban is back ... unrelenting and incorrigible in trying to impose his fatwas about traffic, speed limits, recycling, fence-building, and Allah only knows what other declared transgressions. Death to the Newton Infidels! All hail Mullah Shomar!

Anonymous said...

"Constant vigilance" - Mad-Eye Moody. It's the only way to keep the Taliban out.

Anonymous said...

Hey you other Anonymousers ... If only the views expressed here were just hilarious and ridiculous! The problem is he is 24/7 trying to make his neighbors live the way he thinks they should with him being in charge of their lives! And he seems to have big time influence with City hall nitwits who should know better!! People on Jackson and Walter Streets and all around know he is a threat to their lives and limbs. Don't just laugh and shoot spitballs. Protect Newton from this. Make sure he doesn't become state rep or alderman or something even more frightening!

Anonymous said...

and was a gung ho supporter of Ruth Bzsler, not actual Mayor Setti Warren. His Honor should remember that for 4 years.

Delly News Blog said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Well, the only thing to do is to keep an active watch. I thought Sean was a supporter of Setti's early on. I guess it's always good to be on the winning team, hence the switch. Slight miscalculation though. I guess that will be remembered.

Steve Runge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Runge said...

Anonymice: hard to have a conversation with a bunch of faceless, unnamed people. Who's saying what? I won't even address the mullah nonsense. To the anonymous discussing street widths in England: exactly. With narrower streets and traffic-calming measures, drivers drive more slowly. At lower speeds (20mph or less) serious injuries are far less likely: 1 in 40 vs. 1 in 5. Frankly, I'd rather have people in the community getting involved and pushing for roadway changes that improve safety.

If you anonymice want to get involved, go right ahead. I'm not sure why you need to hide behind a cloak of anonymity, though, to fire your potshots.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we're faceless and unnamed, but we are fundamentally nice, and most important concerned about +other people+, unlike a lot of self-absorbed social activists. We have, it seems to appear independently to 2 or 5 of us, a moral conscience. Some of us agree, kind of, with the overall philosophy of this web site, but cringe at its self-defeating, narcissistic sententiousness. And we don't want to be retaliatorily traffic-calmed where we live, like those who lived the nightmare of Jackson Street. We don't want the self-appointed vanguard running amoc here to get a free pass. That is the point. // Sully from Waban

Anonymous said...

You go anon Sully from Waban!! I have to look up a LOt of those big words but it sounds like you are saying just what I think. This blog (not equals sign) what normal Newton people think!! Personal freedom not self appointed morals police from Saudi!!

Steve Runge said...

"nightmare on Jackson St."? Wow, exaggerate much? I lived the "nightmare," which amounted to a minor inconvenience (at most) to motorists, and a curiosity to pedestrians. I walk the route daily on my way to Bowen with my offspring, and drive it from time to time. The only thing approaching a nightmare on my walk has been crossing Parker Street, where traffic seems sometimes oblivious to the presence of a uniformed crossing guard.

If traffic slowing to negotiate a test-pattern bumpout is a nightmare to you, you need to get out a little more.

Anonymous said...

This is old news, but you can't call it a minor inconvenience. Read the agendas for the aldermen meetings. Or even talk to Sean. After the aldermen actually stood at the corner and listened to folks they not only overturned the traffic council's rejection of stop signs, but finally went to work and came up with a plan to do something while still appeasing two people on Daniel St. that just don't get it. And that often quoted fact about slowing cars for fewer injuries is a nice fact, but it certainly doesn't account for the motives of some people and their twisted road configuration designs to suit their purposes.

Sean's Old Law School buddy said...

I hate this idea

Anonymous said...

Law School Buddy ... you got cut off. What were you saying?

Anonymous said...

Did old law school buddy get flattened by an Econoline swerving to avoid "traffic calming" ??

Anonymous said...

No, I think it was a "friendly" flattening by someone rushing to get to the traffic council meeting in time to show a video about traffic calming. He just had no business standing in someone's way like that.