IIHS study: Anti-speeding efforts successful in slowing traffic

Traffic Safety Pulse News

(California Office of Traffic Safety) An anti-speeding pilot project in Maryland led to a 9% reduction in average speeds, research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found.

The project focused on a stretch of highway on Maryland's Eastern Shore that is a popular route for people heading to the beach and has a well-documented speeding problem. Last summer, the lanes were narrowed to slow traffic, and speed feedback signs were installed in two locations. In addition, outreach efforts focused on telling local residents and businesses about the lane narrowing and planned speed enforcement. The project also placed paid advertising on social media, billboards and the navigation app Waze. Researchers also placed signs along the highway announcing the enforcement and encouraging drivers to slow down. Over the course of five days, law enforcement issued more than 120 speeding citations.

During the campaign, average speeds not only dropped, but the odds that a car exceeded the speed limit dropped by 78%, with an 80% drop in the odds of a driver going more than 10 mph over the speed limit, researchers said.

“Road deaths have been climbing, and more than a quarter of them are connected to speeding,” IIHS President David Harkey said in a news release. “As this study shows, a practical, comprehensive approach to the problem can slow drivers down.”

The effects on speeding reductions were temporary, however, and went away once the campaign stopped. Average speeds were only 2% lower than before the campaign, and the odds of a driver speeding more than 10 mph were 12% higher.

Researchers believe the impacts may have stayed for most drivers, but not drivers who are excessive speeders, making it important to implement more permanent projects.

The pilot program was funded through a $100,000 grant from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), IIHS and National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF). The three organizations are also funding a speed management pilot project for an urban location in Virginia, which is expected to start later this year.

“Speeding is dangerous and deadly, and no one solution will solve the problem,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “Clearly, the Maryland project shows that a holistic approach can get drivers to slow down. When they do, it has a positive impact on their safety and that of everyone else on the road.”