Would Lower Speed Limits Reduce Pedestrian and Cyclist Deaths?

“Speed kills” has been a common refrain uttered by police, insurance companies and safety experts. Study after study shows that high-speed accidents are more likely to kill both pedestrians and cyclists than slow-speed accidents. According to the data:

  • A pedestrian hit by an automobile traveling at 20 mph has a 90 percent chance of surviving, while a pedestrian hit by a car moving at 30 mph has only a 50 percent chance of surviving the accident. At 40 mph, the survival rate drops to just 10 percent.
  • Another study that looked at combined survival rates for both pedestrians and cyclists found that the survival rate for a 20 mph collision is 98 percent, but the survival rate drops to 80 percent at 3o mph and to 30 percent at 40 mph.
  • Chinese study found similar results. It reports, “The results indicate that the vehicle impact velocity has a significant relationship with the fatality risk of both pedestrians and cyclists. The fatality risks at 50 km/h are more than twice as high as the risk at 40 km/h and about 5 times as high as that at 30 km/h for both pedestrians and cyclists. Moreover, cyclists suffered slightly lower fatality risk compared to pedestrians. The corresponding vehicle impact velocity is 65.4 km/h for pedestrian with a fatality risk of 50 percent, whereas for cyclists it is 67.6 km/h.”

(article continues below infographic)

Reduce Pedestrian Cyclist Deaths

Cities Move to Reduce Speed Limits

As a result, many cities are dropping their speed limits, including New York City, which about a year ago decreased its default speed limit to 25 mph from 30 mph, and London. Not only do traffic fatalities decrease as the speed drops, but the number of accidents is also reduced. Slower driving speeds equate to shorting braking distances, meaning drivers are more likely to avoid accidents entirely. In fact, it’s estimated that a 1 percent reduction in speed results in a 2 percent reduction in the number of automobile accidents.

However, it’s not enough for a city to simply lower the speed limits on its roads. Police need to publicize the reduced speed limits and take strong enforcement actions against those who are driving above the speed limit.

Although Chicago hasn’t changed its default speed limit, the city and some suburbs are working to implement protected bike lanes, which help to separate bicyclists and cars. The city has also taken steps to publicize the fact that drivers must, by law, stop for pedestrians in cross walks. At some particularly dangerous crosswalks, pedestrians have access to florescent yellow or orange flags they can carry as they cross the street in an effort to ensure that drivers see the pedestrians and stop for them.

If You’ve Been the Victim of Car-Pedestrian or Car-Bicycle Accident

If you’re a pedestrian or cyclist who has been injured in an auto accident, you may have cause for a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. Under Illinois personal injury laws, if the driver’s carelessness, recklessness or intentional actions contributed to your accident, then you may be entitled to damages, or compensation for your losses. The Chicago car accident attorneys at Cogan & Power, P.C., can evaluate the specifics of your accident and help determine whether you have a valid claim.

To win a personal injury lawsuit, you and your Chicago car accident attorney must prove three things:

  • The driver had a legal obligation to avoid injuring you
  • The driver failed to uphold that legal obligation
  • You were injured and suffered financial losses as a result of your accident

If your lawsuit is successful, you can receive money to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, the repair or replacement cost of any damaged property, pain and suffering, and other expenses.

Under Illinois law, you must be no more than 50 percent to blame for your accident in order to recover damages. If you are more than 0 percent responsible but less than 51 percent responsible, then the compensation you receive can be reduced in direct proportion to your share of the blame. For example, if your accident occurred while you were biking at night and you weren’t wearing reflective clothing or your bike lacked appropriate safety equipment such reflectors and lights, then the court might determine that you were 25 percent responsible for your accident. Consequently, any damages you receive would be reduced by 25 percent.

Contact the Chicago Car Accident Attorneys at Cogan & Power, P.C., Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident that was someone else’s fault, contact the personal injury lawyers at Cogan & Power, P.C., today. Our phone number is (312) 477-2500. We’re happy to schedule a free initial consultation at our offices or a location that is convenient to you. If you have a valid claim, our lawyers will diligently fight on your behalf in an effort to get you all of the compensation you deserve.