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Title: Reduction of the speed limit at highways: an evaluation of the traffic safety effect
Authors: DE PAUW, Ellen 
Thierie, Melissa
Issue Date: 2014
Source: DVD Proceedings of the Speed Congress
Abstract: Speed is one of the main risk factors in traffic safety, as it increases both the chances and the severity of a crash. In order to achieve improved traffic safety by influencing the speed of travel, road authorities may decide to lower the legally imposed speed limits. In 2001 the Flemish government decided to lower speed limits from 90 km/h (56mph) to 70 km/h (43mph) on a considerable number of highways. The present study examines the effectiveness of this measure by using a comparison group before- and after study to account for general trend effects in road safety. Sixty-one road sections with a total length of 116 km (72 miles) were included. The speed limits for those locations were restricted in 2001 and 2002. The comparison group consisted of 19 road sections with a total length of 53 km (33 miles) and an unchanged speed limit of 90 km/h (56mph) throughout the research period. Taking trend into account, the analyses showed a 5% decrease [0.88; 1.03] in the crash rates after the speed limit restriction. A greater effect was identified in the case of crashes involving serious injuries and fatalities, which showed a decrease of 33% [0.57; 0.79]. Separate analyses between crashes at intersections and at road sections showed a higher effectiveness at road sections. It can be concluded from this study that speed limit restrictions do have a favorable effect on traffic safety, especially on severe crashes. Future research should examine the cause for the difference in the effect between road sections and intersections that was identified, taking vehicle speeds into account.
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Category: C2
Type: Proceedings Paper
Appears in Collections:Research publications

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