We all want to arrive safely at our destination. By slowing down we make our roads safer for our children, families and friends. Research shows that a 5% cut in average speed can result in a 30% reduction in the number of fatal road traffic crashes. When the world commits to #SlowDown and implements evidence based solutions, road traffic crashes will fall and we will save lives.
The Fourth UN Global Road Safety Week focused on speed management. It promoted the tagline #SlowDown from the perspective of safe road users, safe vehicles and safe roads. Thousands of people pledged to slow down all around the world and thousands more organized #SlowDown Day events. These events set political momentum for slower roads all around the world with a view to permanently slow down roads around schools and in neighbourhoods. These events reached hundreds of thousands of people and set about a global movement to #SlowDown roads all around the world.
By slowing down, observing speed limits appropriate for the roads and not speeding, we make the roads safer for all. For children walking to school, for the elderly crossing the road, for workers driving to places of work and all road users. Speeding is a major risk factor. The more your speed, the higher the risk of a crash as well as the severity of crash consequences. Speeding also affects other road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. Slowing down is safe.
You have more chance of avoiding a collision when you #SlowDown. The lower your speed, the less distance is covered while you make decisions and take action to avoid a potential collision (reaction distance). Also, the slower you are going, the less time it takes for the vehicle to stop when you hit the brakes (braking distance).
Lower speeds decrease your risk of a crash for a number of reasons:
Figure 1.2: from Speed Management: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners.
The lower the speed, the less kinetic or movement energy the vehicle and you (the driver or passengers) are carrying. Therefore less energy is released when colliding into another vehicle or stationary object, such as a tree or wall. Part of the energy released will be absorbed by the objects involved in the crash and part will be absorbed by the human body, causing injuries. Our human body is vulnerable and there is only so much energy it can handle without being seriously damaged. The less energy, the less damage.
Figure 1.4: from Pedestrian Safety: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners.
Evidence shows that the key solutions for managing speed are establishing and enforcing speed limit laws, building or modifying roads to include features to limit speed, installing technologies in vehicles, and raising awareness about the dangers of speeding as well as the actual speed limit on each road. To manage and reduce speeds we need safe vehicles, safe roads and safe people!
Speed management campaigns serve many functions. They not only help people learn about the dangers of speeding, but also about the penalties they may face if they break speed limit laws.
Signs, road markings and global positioning systems in vehicles help people know the appropriate speed limits set for any given road. Such campaigns offer practical reasons to #SlowDown.
Speed management must be a part of every road design and every review of existing roads. This can through the provision of all the safe design features needed to ensure safety at higher speeds or through the active management of vehicle speeds that account for the limitations of road design.
Setting and enforcing appropriate speed limits are also important. 30 km/h in pedestrian zones, 50 km/h at crossroad intersections and 70 km/h on undivided roads are just some examples of safer speeds that minimize the risk of fatality.
Not all cars are created equal and some are safer than others. How safe your car is can mean the difference between life or death in the event of a crash so make sure you choose a safe one.
Certain vehicle safety technologies can also help you manage your speed, such as intelligent speed assistance, and avoid a crash in the first place, like autonomous emergency braking.
Hundreds of thousands campaigners around the world participated in the Save Lives - #SlowDown campaign. From the simple task of downloading a signboard and taking a picture with it for social media awareness via the #SlowDown hashtag, to organizing a fully fledged #SlowDown Day.
Nearly 1000 events were organized across the world with campaigners setting in motion political and social momentum to reduce speeds on the road, especially around schools and areas where pedestrians frequent.
See a map of the events registered for the event: