By Pendergast Law on March 25, 2015
Seattle is consistently ranked among the safest cities in the country for pedestrians and yet the leading cause of death for Seattle residents between the ages of five and 24 is traffic accidents. According to a news report in The Seattle Times, the Seattle Department of Transportation and local police officers have embarked on a mission to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities to zero. Vision Zero involves designing roadways that allow pedestrians to make mistakes and still survive an accident.
In 2013, there were over 10,000 police-reported traffic accidents in Seattle including 155 serious injuries and 23 fatalities. In 2014, there were 15 traffic fatalities. Only three percent of Seattle collisions involve a pedestrian or bicyclists, but walkers and bikers make up 50 percent of all local traffic fatalities.
One way to reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities is to reduce the speed limit. Higher speeds result in more severe injuries. Therefore, Seattle officials are reducing downtown speed limits from 30 to 25 miles per hour by the end of 2015. Arterial citywide roadways will be 30 miles per hour and lower and non-arterials roads near parks and school will have a speed limit of only 20 miles per hour. Officials will also install at least 12 new safety cameras in six school zones and increase enforcement patrols in high crash areas.
Motorists may worry about the new speed limits, but a reduction of 5 miles per hour will likely only add a minute to a commuter’s trip. What we do know is that there is a direct relation between impact speed and a pedestrian’s risk of death. According to one recent study cited by the AAA Foundation, the average risk of severe injury for a pedestrian struck by a car reaches 10 percent at an impact speed of 16 miles per hour, 25 percent at 23 mph, 50 percent at 31 mph, 75 percent at 39 mph, and 90 percent at 46 mph.
When you are driving in Seattle, please remember to remain on the lookout for pedestrians and to slow down. When out walking, use extreme caution when you have to cross the road or walk along the roadway. Fatal crashes are preventable if we all work together. If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, please contact an experienced Seattle car accident lawyer for more information regarding your legal rights and options.