Speeding is one of the deadliest problems plaguing road safety in America, injuring and killing pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. But, due to a local experiment in Maryland, this experiment may become a national example on how to reduce speeding.
Three national traffic safety groups partnered with the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to learn what can be done to reduce speeding to make the roads safer, especially considering traffic deaths are at a 16-year high, and speeding is a main reason.
To reduce speeding, a pilot program was born to increase high visibility traffic enforcement on MD 367, they narrowed the lanes, they posted speeding signs, and they got the word out that if drivers sped, they will get pulled over.
Speeding dropped nearly 80 percent, and the average speed fell by nine percent. But, once the program ended, speeding rose again.
The combination of smarter infrastructure engineering, public engagement, and traffic enforcement are the keys to safer roads if you ask the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). But, as GHSA explains, traffic safety enforcement has recently taken a back seat in many communities.
“As we saw that happen, we saw risky driving behaviors really exploding on our roadways,” said Pam Fischer with the GHSA. “We need enforcement out there removing those individuals from the roadway to protect everyone out there.”
The multipronged effort on MD 367 was supported by a $100,000 grant from the GHSA, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF).
“The effects appear to have lingered for many drivers, but not the most aggressive speeders,” says IIHS Senior Research Transportation Engineer Wen Hu, the lead author of the study. “We believe efforts must be sustained in order to succeed over the long term and reduce speed-related crashes and fatalities.”