DeFazio, Norton, and Larsen Take on Dangerous Street Design
Oregon’s 4th District Representative, Congressman Peter DeFazio and colleagues Representative Norton, and Representative Larsen are asking the Government Accounting Office to investigate “the relationship between vehicle speed and roadway fatalities” and more specifically, “challenges that states face in improving pedestrian and cyclist safety (including roadway design speeds and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidelines for road design)” — particularly “the effects of the common road engineering standard that sets speed limits at the rate 85 percent of drivers would use under regular conditions.“ In their letter they state ”[W]e are concerned that conventional engineering practices have encouraged engineers to design roads at 5-15 miles per hour faster than the posted speed for the street. This typically means roads are designed and built with wider, straighter lanes and have fewer objects near the edges, more turn lanes, and wider turning radii at intersections. While these practices improve driving safety, a suspected unintended consequence is that drivers travel faster when they feel safer. Greater speeds can increase the frequency and severity of crashes with pedestrians and cyclists who are moving at much slower speeds and have much less protection than a motorized vehicle affords.“
Please email FHWA imploring them to update the non-interstate highway standards to prioritize safety for all road users, over vehicle speed and convenience. Adding, updated standards should embody the goal of eliminating pedestrian and cyclist deaths. Zero is the only acceptable number!