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Why reduce speed limit to 30 km/h? "Answer is blowin' in the wind"

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Bobby Ramakant - CNS

Governments have promised reducing maximum speed limit to 30 km/h. Time to deliver on the promise for safer roads for a safer world
Governments have promised reducing maximum speed limit to 30 km/h. Time to deliver on the promise for safer roads for a safer world
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Due to the Covid lockdown in 2020, though the number of road traffic accidents declined yet deaths did not decline in the same proportion because people drive at higher speeds which continued to result in fatal accidents. Every year, more than 1.3 million people die in road traffic crashes - that's one person every 24 seconds. Excessive speed is at the core of the road traffic injury problem, with 1 in 3 deaths on the roads in high-income countries attributed to speed. It is estimated that 40-50% of people drive above the speed limit, with every 1 km/h increase in speed resulting in a 4-5% increase in fatal crashes. The risk of death and injury reduces considerably when speeds are lowered.

That is why the 6th United Nation Global Road Safety Week (17-23 May 2021) is mobilizing demand in several countries worldwide for low-speed streets which will make our cities not only safe, but also healthy, green and liveable. The Week is highlighting the links between 30 kilometer per hour (or 20 miles per hour) speed limits and attainment of several Sustainable Development Goals, including those on health, education, infrastructure, sustainable cities, climate action and partnerships.

we want low speeds, liveable streets and communities

Granddaughter of Nelson Mandela and Global Ambassador for the Child Health Initiative Ms Zoleka Mandela had lost her 13-year-old daughter Zenani in a road traffic crash in South Africa 11 years back. She rightly demanded "We want low speeds, we want liveable streets, and communities where we can walk safely, where our children can get to school unharmed. We call for 30 km/h speed limits. Above 30 is a death sentence."

"We need a new vision for creating safe, healthy, green and liveable cities," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). "Low-speed streets are an important part of that vision. As we recover and rebuild from COVID-19, let's make safer roads for a safer world."

Above 30 km/h impact speeds, pedestrians are at considerably greater risk of death. This is even greater for the young and elderly. In the distance a 30km/h car can stop, a 50km/h car is still driving. Higher speeds narrow motorists' peripheral vision and impact their reaction times. Other studies suggest that there can be a reduction in road traffic crash of up to 6% for each 1 mph speed reduction for urban roads. Overall, the WHO have concluded that an increase in average speed of 1 km/h results in a 3% higher risk of a crash and a 4 to 5% increase in fatalities.

stockholm declaration and UN General Assembly resolution 2020

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