Slowing down can save lives

Taleise Lawrence, Assistant Editor

Everyone wants to get where they’re going, but at what cost? It’s so important to keep safety in mind when driving, even if it comes at the cost of getting somewhere a few minutes slower, especially considering traffic fatalities.
Madison has recently been implementing safety measures to eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries on all roadways, bikeways and sidewalks. This comes in the form of Vision Zero, which “emphasizes smarter street designs that account for human error and education, data-driven enforcement and community engagement,” according to the City of Madison’s Department of Transportation website. By 2035, Madison aspires to have no traffic fatalities.
How is this goal being reached?
There are a few different ways: street redesigns, infrastructure improvements, improved biking and walking facilities and speed reductions. Six different stretches of road in Madison are being changed, most of these areas are only being reduced by five mph.
Even a small amount like this can have a huge difference. While the crash might not be eliminated entirely, the chances of fatalities are reduced. When pedestrians are hit at 40 mph, there is a 73% chance of fatality or severe injury. At 30 mph, that chance has dropped to 40%.
Two areas where this has already been implemented are East Washington Avenue and John Nolen Drive. Both areas’ speed limits have been reduced to 35 mph.
I take both these roads on my way to work and school every day. When the speed first changed, I thought it was a temporary thing because of the construction happening in the area. When the traffic cones left and the speed limit stayed the same, I realized it would not be changing back. And I’m loving it.
When I follow the speed limit, I don’t have to worry about getting pulled over or getting a speeding ticket. There’s less anxiety in driving, knowing that if an accident were to happen, I did everything I could to prevent it.
Another bonus in driving the speed limit is that everyone else seems to hate when I do it. Cars always go flying past me, the drivers craning their necks to see what grandmother is driving in front of them. Surprise! It’s just me, a 20-year-old college student.
Sometimes, I like to guess how long it will take before a car will pass me. People will tailgate my car for a minute or two before they whip out into the left lane and speed away.
Reducing speed limits is necessary for eliminating traffic fatalities. While some people might not be on board with it, I’m excited to do my part in making Madison a safer city for pedestrians and drivers alike.