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30km/h target in Global Road Safety Week

30km/h speed target in Global Road Safety Week city

Motorists are being urged to slow down to 30km/h in urban areas in the fourth annual United Nations Global Road Safety Week from today (May 8, 2017).

The UN “Save Lives #SlowDown” campaign (May 8-14, 2017) cites World Health Organisation (WHO) “research” that claims a 5% cut in average speed can result in a 30% reduction in the number of fatal road traffic crashes.

It calls for a reduction of the speed limit in urban areas where motorised traffic miles with pedestrians and cyclists to “under 30km/h”!

30km/h speed target in Global Road Safety Week
WHO “fact sheet”

Like the Australian Fatality Free Friday road safety initiative, the UN campaign asks motorists to “take the pledge” to slow down and join their social media bulletin board.

It might seem very noble, but it’s a simplistic campaign to a very complex problem.

In fact, the recent 108-page WHO “Powered two- and three-wheeler safety” report identified how complex the problem is.

It gave a multitude of suggested solutions including reducing roadside hazards and providing special motorbike lanes.

Speed limits 30km/hInstead, the UN response is a simplistic pledge and a reduced speed limit that ignores the deeper issues:

  • Driver education;
  • Improving road standards;
  • Proper accident research; and
  • Increased policing patrols.
  • These all cost governments money.

Instead, the UN pledge puts the emphasis on the motorist to slow down and is free, so it will no doubt be embraced by governments.

The pledge is also a concern because the UN gives credibility to the politically easy move to decrease speeds and increase speeding fines and for authorities to step up speed camera deployment.

Not only do these not cost governments a lot of money; they actually generate revenue!

So guess which way the authorities will go on this – follow the UN #slowdown campaign and reduce urban speed limits, or initiate expensive and complex solutions?

Video lesson

Meanwhile, we just thought we’d throw in this video from Portugal of a rider who hits the back of a car and lands on the roof.

What caused this crash?

Is it a case of speeding, following too closely, incorrect lane positioning by the driver, lack of rider education, a driver slowing down at the wrong time …

Like many crashes, it has a complex cause.

So the solution needs more thought than a simple pledge to slow down or to implement urban speed limits of 30km/h.

  1. If a 30 limit were to be implemented in “mixed” zones, will that also apply to cyclists, and how would it be enforced?

    1. It certainly isn’t enforced in Centennial Park which is entirely 30km/h zone. As the result you often see cyclists (who seem to think they are in their private training facility, but that’s another rant) overtake cars… which are already going over the limit of course, because in reality there is no such thing as 30km/h. This whole thing is absurd.

    2. A cyclist weighing 70kg (plus bike weighing 8kg) has far less mass, inertia and potential for damage than a steel cage of 1.5 tonnes with blind spots and 30 different things distracting the driver on the dashboard.
      But thanks for your misguided misdirection of the real cause of road deaths.
      As for enforcement? Police currently don’t give a damn about enforcement of anything. Drivers go to court and get their licence back “because pretty please I need it for work”. The only thing they fine cyclists for is “no helmet” which is a ridiculous law that doesn’t even exist in 99% of the rest of the country.
      [Australian] society accepts many, many road deaths, because we all want to drive/ride when and how we want, and that’s the price we pay.

      1. “A cyclist weighing 70kg (plus bike weighing 8kg) has far less mass, inertia and potential for damage than a steel cage of 1.5 tonnes with blind spots and 30 different things distracting the driver on the dashboard.”

        True. But when one of these morons appears suddenly at speed from between a van and the kerb just as you are about to step back on to the footpath from a light controlled pedestrian crossing leaving you with a broken arm, cheekbone, dislocated knee and various cuts and abrasions. Don’t expect any sympathy from me. I got none. The **** just rode off!

  2. Taking this ‘reduce speed’ mantra to its logical conclusion: at 0kph there should be no accidents. So let’s have a UN-sponsored ‘take a week off and spend it in bed because it’s too dangerous out there’ week. See how that goes.

    1. “..a 5% cut in average speed can result in a 30% reduction in the number of fatal road traffic crashes.”

      Well then, so a speed reduction to zero would result in a 100% drop in fatalities. Sounds good to me.

      The one that I think says it all is this;
      1. A TV ad proclaims the benefits of random speed cameras. They save lives, we’re told.
      2 A radio ad quotes; “..If only he had KNOWN there was speed camera around the next bend, he would have slowed down and lived. Huh?

      This is the mentality and intelligence of the people in charge of the rules.

  3. Numerous people die every year at speeds no greater than walking pace
    Most die from tripping over a crack in the sidewalk or slipping on a banana peel
    Some even die just sitting in their car going nowhere. The point is people die and except for any personal tragedy we should rejoice this fact because if not we’d all be starving to death by now.

  4. You nailed it in your first point: EDUCATION. It should be compulsory for all new drivers to be taught by a properly qualified and trained instructor until deemed competent to practise with mum or dad (or whoever). Too many people do it the other way around and pick up very bad habits from whoever is “teaching” them initially; many of those “teachers” can hardly drive themselves. Even though 95% of drivers think they are above average, by definition 50% are below. One can’t get a pilot licence and then train others without gaining a commercial licence and then an instructor rating. Driving is far more dangerous and requires much smaller tolerances (I am a former airline pilot and flight instructor). The cost of driver training could be subsidised so as not to disadvantage lower socio-economic groups. The cost of such a subsidy should be recovered by a big reduction in road trauma.

    I find the biggest problem with drivers is that they don’t seem to understand the meaning of double lines. I get sick of coming around bends to find vehicles on my side of the road, across double lines. It seems in the current day and age of traffic policing in this country, anything goes as long as one is not “speeding”.

    1. Mum and dad or whoever should get the training before they are allowed to teach!
      In fact all drivers should recieve a regular review of their driving skills.

  5. Why so many different speed limits?
    Are we not wise enough to judge our own save speed?
    If not why are we licenced?

  6. A crash is rarely fatal at an impact speed below 30 km/h. This is also the case for crashes between a car and a vulnerable, unprotected cyclist or pedestrian. At an impact speed of 30 km/h more than 95% of the pedestrians survive a crash with a passenger car; at an impact speed of 50 km/h approximately 85% of the pedestrians survive such a crash.
    reasons for links for safety and speed:
    – More time to notice something head of you
    – Less “tunnel view”
    – Less reaction time
    – Less breaking time
    – More time for pedestrians to jump back , or to driver to change course.
    – Much less energy involved in the accident even if there is an accident.

    see also
    Nilsson, G. (1982). The effects of speed limits on traffic crashes in Sweden. In: Proceedings of the international symposium on the effects of speed limits on traffic crashes and fuel consumption, Dublin.

    Literature Review on Vehicle Travel Speeds and Pedestrian Injuries, U. S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, DOT HS 809 021, October 1999

    Elvik, R., Christensen, P., & Helene Amundsen, A. (2004) Speed and road accidents: an evaluation of the power model. TØI, Transportøkonomisk Institutt, Oslo – Norge

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