Experience Brings Results

Odds of pedestrian deaths with 10 mph speed increases

How many times have you seen someone drive through a 25 mph zone at 35 miph? It's fairly common. People often break the speed limit even when it's set at 70 mph on the interstate. When they're in low-speed zones, they often don't think that slight increase makes much difference.

It may not make much difference when everything goes as planned, but it can have a drastic influence if there is a pedestrian accident. A jogger steps off of the curb quickly. A woman walking her dog at night crosses the road without highly-visible clothing. A man rolling a trash bin to the curb stands near the edge of the road as a distracted driver swerves.

In seconds, a normal drive turns into a traumatic crash, and the speed of that car massively changes the odds that the person will be killed.

For instance, two separate studies found that the odds of death were a mere 5 percent if the car was going just 20 mph. That low speed is uncommon.

Increasing the speed to 30 mph sounds like very little change. In the car, it may even be hard to tell how fast you're going. The odds of death skyrocket, though, jumping all the way to 37 percent in one study and 45 percent in another.

Increase the speed again to 40 mph, and pedestrian deaths become the norm. The person's odds of being killed at that speed were found to be 83 percent in one study and 85 percent in the other.

The link is clearly established. Pedestrians always face danger, and speeding drivers increase it tremendously, even if they don't feel like they're breaking the speed limit by enough to matter. Those who are injured and the families of those who are killed must know what legal options they have.

Source: Human Transport, "Effects of Vehicle Speed on Pedestrian Fatalities," accessed Nov. 03, 2017

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