Sunday, June 20, 2021
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Why Reduce Speed Limit To 30 Km/h? ‘Answer Is Blowin’ In The Wind’

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

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


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.


That is why in
February 2020, governments endorsed the Stockholm
Declaration on Road Safety to address speed management as a
key road safety intervention, in particular to “strengthen
law enforcement to prevent speeding and mandate a maximum
road travel speed of 30 km/h as appropriate in areas where
vulnerable road users and vehicles mix in a frequent and
planned manner…” The Stockholm Declaration underscores
that efforts to reduce speed have a beneficial impact on air
quality and climate change as well as being vital to reduce
road traffic deaths and injuries. The Stockholm Declaration
based its call for low-speed streets on studies from recent
decades In cities such as Graz, Austria; London, UK; New
York, USA; and Toronto, Canada, which indicated that 30 km/h
speed limits and zones yielded reductions – often
significant – in road traffic crashes, injuries and
deaths. Evidence shows that 30 km/h streets where people mix
with traffic not only save lives, but also promote walking,
cycling and a move towards zero-carbon

Following the Stockholm Declaration, in
August 2020, heads of 194 countries at the UN General
Assembly adopted resolution 74/299 “Improving global road
safety” which also echoed the promise of enforcing 30 km/h
as maximum speed limit.

The 30 km/h speed limits and
zones are being replicated in many cities worldwide. This
includes in Brussels, Paris and cities across Spain, which
from 11 May 2021 mandates in all the country’s
municipalities 30 km/h speed limits on dual carriageways and
20 km/h on single carriageways with a pavement which does
not differ in height from the road’s surface. 30 km/h zones
are also being put in place in sections of cities worldwide,
from Bogotá, Colombia to Accra, Ghana and Ho Chi Minh City,
Viet Nam.

In Tanzania, road injuries reduced by as
much as 26%. In Toronto, Canada, road crashes fell by 28%
since speed limits were reduced from 40 to 30 km/h in 2015,
which led to a reduction in serious and fatal injuries by
two thirds. In Colombia, Bogota has included 30km/h zones in
a package of measures in its Speed Management Plan that have
reduced traffic fatalities by 32%. A study from London found
that lower speed limits were associated with a 42% reduction
in road casualties, while in Bristol the introduction of
20mph limits was associated with a 63% reduction in fatal
injuries between 2008 and 2016.

One of
the strong advocates of maximum speed limit of 30 km/h is
Lena Huda, who founded and
said to CNS (Citizen News Service) some weeks back: “I
grew up in Germany, which is a car-loving nation, where the
car industry is influential. However, I felt much safer
there when I walked or cycled. Car drivers did not feel that
they “owned” neighbourhood streets. They were watching
out for kids and people riding bikes. The presence of
children playing on the streets is a welcomed sight in
German neighbourhoods- not a reason for an angry Facebook
post that children should be “road aware” and not scoot
or cycle on the road in front of cars.”

Lena noticed
a change when she relocated from Germany to Australia. She
said to CNS “I wonder if people really have considered
what it means for this generation of children to be
constantly supervised and driven to places. Most children in
Australia are driven to school even though most children
live within 2 km of their school.” She added “I am
surprised that kids are not free to ride through their
neighbourhoods. I have met many parents worried about road
safety; many do not allow their kids to walk to school due
to these concerns.”

“The default speed limit in
Australia is 50 km/h and around some schools we have tiny
school zones with 40 km/h speed limits,” said Lena Huda.
“There is less than 10% risk that somebody walking will be
killed at an impact speed of 30 km/h but a 85% risk at 50
km/h. That is why I founded, a
campaign for 30 km/h to be the speed limit in neighbourhoods
in Australia. In Wollongong, we have set up partnerships
with local organisations to get more children to walk and
cycle to school and make it safer. Our kids deserve to be
free to ride their bikes in their streets and build healthy
habits for their life.”

Bobby Ramakant – CNS
(Citizen News Service). Bobby Ramakant is a survivor of a
road traffic accident, a World Health Organization Director
General’s WNTD Awardee and part of CNS (Citizen News
Service) team who cycles and uses public transport since
2014 in India/ Thailand, and gave up his driving license to
call for road sovereignty. Follow him on Twitter

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