Pro­ceed with cau­tion on lower speed lim­its

The Delhi News-Record - - OPINION -

Be­fore cities de­cide whether to lower the speed limit on res­i­den­tial streets to 30 km/ h from 50 km/ h — as Cal­gary is con­tem­plat­ing — let’s make sure they’ve done their home­work.

While it’s laud­able that road safety has been put on coun­cil’s radar, let’s make sure we’ve got the right so­lu­tion for the right prob­lem.

Coun. Druh Far­rell, who is lead­ing this ini­tia­tive, has a chart that says the faster the ve­hi­cle the more likely a col­li­sion with a pedes­trian is fa­tal. That’s the law of physics.

Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra says res­i­dents keep ask­ing for lower speeds on res­i­den­tial streets. Who doesn’t?

Let’s as­sess the size of the prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est sta­tis­tics from the Al­berta gov­ern­ment. The 1,185 pedes­trian ca­su­al­ties amounted to just seven per cent of all ca­su­al­ties on the prov­ince’s roads in 2016. Of the 299 fa­tal­i­ties, 50 or 16.7 per cent were pedes­tri­ans.

Al­most 50 per cent of driv­ers in col­li­sions with pedes­tri­ans failed to yield to the vic­tim. But in 30.1 per cent of driver-pedes­trian col­li­sions, the driver did noth­ing wrong. One can only pre­sume that the pedes­trian did some­thing to en­dan­ger him or her­self.

In­deed, in 34.2 per cent of pedes­trian fa­tal­i­ties, the pedes­trian had con­sumed al­co­hol. In in­jury col­li­sions, nine per cent in­volved al­co­hol. Are res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hoods prone to wan­der­ing drunks?

When it comes to age, the stats are in­ter­est­ing, too. In Cal­gary, play­ground zones are lim­ited to 30 km/ h. That must be work­ing to some de­gree since in all of Al­berta, only four chil­dren un­der the age of 15 were in­volved in a fa­tal pedes­trian col­li­sion in 2016.

The age group with the high­est ca­su­alty rate was 15 to 19. Maybe the 30 km/ h rate works. Maybe it’s teenagers not look­ing twice be­fore cross­ing the street.

Then we come to en­force­ment. With­out it, rules are just win­dow dress­ing.

Let’s take those play­ground zones. Many in Cal­gary say while they’ve driven through those ar­eas, they’ve been passed il­le­gally by some id­iot speed­ing above the 30 km/ h limit. Clearly, there is not enough en­force­ment and pun­ish­ment for trans­gres­sors.

Fi­nally, we need to hear from the traf­fic sec­tion of po­lice de­part­ments, the of­fi­cers on the front lines, be­fore de­ci­sions are made. Do they think there’s a prob­lem and can they en­force a new rule?

Ob­vi­ously, we all want zero fa­tal­i­ties for all road users, but so­ci­ety has ac­cepted there’s a risk to our au­to­mo­bile cul­ture. Should we keep work­ing to lower the ca­su­alty fig­ures? Ab­so­lutely. But let’s make sure it’s ef­fec­tive and not merely an­noy­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.