Speeding Collisions “Much More Deadly Than Other Collisions”

Chicago Traffic Safety Performance, pedestrian injuries & fatalities 2005-2012
Speeding car crashes are more likely to kill and severely injure pedestrians than all other types of crashes.

Washington, DC, has the same “vision zero” goal to eliminate traffic deaths as Chicago. In this new public service announcement, DC police chief Cathy Lanier says, “High speed collisions are much more deadly than other collisions.” Exactly. When you compare the severity of injuries that pedestrians suffer in speeding-related crashes to non-speeding crashes, you see what Lanier is talking about.

In Chicago, when excessive speed is the primary cause of a crash involving a pedestrian, less than 1.5 percent of victims walk away without an injury. Of the 346 pedestrians hit by cars in speeding crashes from 2005-2012 in Chicago, 31 people, or almost nine percent, were killed. While a far greater number of pedestrians were involved in crashes where the primary cause wasn’t speeding, only 1.2 percent of them were killed. Speeding crashes are rarer than other types of crashes, but deadlier and more injurious.

These stats, contrary to the belief of at least one Streetsblog commenter, aren’t made up. The evidence that speeding kills is overwhelming. Chicago’s automated enforcement system is reducing the incidence of speeding, which will prevent severe injuries and deaths.

Cathy Lanier could testify to the life-saving effectiveness of automated enforcement. DC has seen traffic deaths plummet 76 percent since 2001 [PDF], thanks in part to an extensive automated enforcement system that includes more than 130 cameras in a city with one-quarter the population of Chicago.

One of our commenters summarized this issue, in response to a recent pedestrian fatality, saying “The penalty for jaywalking shouldn’t be death.” Reducing death and injuries to people out walking will encourage more walking — to work, to school, to the store down the street. That’s why the city’s 40 speed cameras – which will eventually rise to 300 – focus their lenses on speeding drivers, while Chicago police focus on reducing neighborhood crime.

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