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California drafts bills to reduce fatal crashes caused by speeding

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California state legislators have drafted bills in an attempt to combat speeding as the number of deaths, specifically on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), continues to rise, according to the Los Angeles Daily News

There have been more than 60 deaths on the highway since 2010, according to the article. It says the death of four Pepperdine University students struck by a driver traveling at 104 mph has renewed concerns about speeding in the state. 

Sen. Henry Stern (D-District 27) introduced SB 1509 in February. The bill, if passed, would give drivers 2 points on their license if traveling 26 mph faster than the posted speed limit. 

Two points would be similar to the amount of points a driver receives for a DUI and hit-and-run convictions, the Los Angeles Daily News article says. 

The bill notes the state had 4,285 traffic fatalities and 4,287 serious injuries in 2021. 

“Recent increases in speed-related collisions that result in serious injury and or death are a present and growing danger to the public,” the bill says. “Law enforcement at the state and local level must be provided effective statutory changes to maximize their efforts in combating driving at unsafe speeds.”

The bill made it out of the Senate Transportation Committee last week but was quickly referred back to the committee.

A second bill, introduced by Sen. Ben Allen (D-District 24) would expand the state’s speed safety system pilot programs to multiple cities, including Malibu where a number of the PCH deaths have happened. The bill, SB1297, would place speed cameras in the city along a portion of the PCH. 

The bill also was referred back to the Transportation Committee in recent weeks. 

Crash data released by the National Highway Safety Administration earlier this month shows 18% of all drivers involved in a fatal crash in 2022 were speeding at the time of the crash. It also says speeding was related to 29% of all fatal crashes during that time period. 

Overall, 12,151 people died in speed-related crashes in 2022; a slight decrease from the 12,498 killed in 2021. 

AAA recently released a report exploring whether raising the speed limits on interstates impacted adjacent roadways. It says preliminary findings alone did not indicate an increase in crashes with some arterials, collectors, and local streets within a 1-mile buffer from ramps of three of the four interstates studied having lower speed-related crashes.

The report says that a spatial analysis did uncover hidden safety concerns such as new hot spots and maintained hot spots on the adjacent roads along the Interstates. 

New hot spots are defined as new areas of safety concern where clusters of speed-related crashes increased to statistical importance after a posted speed limit change. Maintained hot spots showed either a significant change or maintained their number of speed-related crashes. 

The report studies the increase in the speed limit pn the following interstates: 

    • 55 mph to 65 mph on a segment of Georgia’s I-85
    • 70 mph to 75 mph on two segments of Michigan’s I-75 and I-69 
    • 65 mph to 70 mph on a segment of Oregon’s 1-84

The case studied the two years before and two years after speed limits were increased for the interstate segments, it says. The year that the speed limit was changed was excluded to avoid any crashes that could have happened due to adoption.

In Georgia, crashes within the 1-mile buffer were reduced to 84 in the two years after the speed limit introduction in 2015. The region had 100 crashes from 2013 to 2014. 

Michigan’s two segments had mixed results with total crashes being reduced along the I-75 segment to 407 in 2018-2020 from 526 in 2013-2016. The 1-69 segment saw a slight increase with 394 crashes in 2018-2020 and 378 in the prior years of 2013-2016. 

On Oregon’s I-84 segment, crashes reduced to 183 during the 2017-2019 period from 225 in 2013-2015, the report says. 

Yet, all four segments saw a shift in where crashes occurred on non-interstate roadways within 1 mile of the speed limit change, the report says. 

Roadway managers can reuse the method provided in the report to determine possible hot spots in their communities after interstate speed limit changes, the report says. 

According to the report, transportation agencies should work with local officials when raising interstate speeds to create plans on how to reduce crashes at other nearby locations. 

“When transportation agencies can visually identify hot spots on their roads, comprehensive plans can be developed with strategies and countermeasures to address them,” the report says. 


Photo courtesy of Kameleon007/iStock

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