California Officials Debate Impact of Speed Limits on Pedestrian Accidents
Government officials and citizens in West Hollywood have initiated a fierce debate over speed limits on some of the city’s streets in the wake of three pedestrian fatalities and 81 additional car-pedestrian accidents since 2011. According to a West Hollywood police officer, all three pedestrians were legally in a crosswalk at the time of the accident, and the driver of the vehicle was at fault in every case. One citizen, having witnessed a number of near-fatal accidents, began videotaping motorists running stop lights and stop signs, forwarding the footage to city officials.
Interestingly, proposals to resolve the problem involve conflicting opinions—some say that the solution is to reduce speeds on such streets as Santa Monica Boulevard, while others believe that increasing the speed limit will actually increase safety for pedestrians.
Those in favor of reducing speed limits argue that high rates of speed, combined with the sometimes blinding sun on Santa Monica Boulevard and parallel streets, can make it difficult for drivers to stop in time to avoid an accident.
Opponents, though, contend that the speed limits are too low, and that there are too many traffic lights and stop signs. They argue that drivers get frustrated at gridlock traffic and take their frustrations out behind the wheel, becoming more aggressive in their driving. In addition, they may zoom onto side streets, where they become a greater risk to pedestrians.
City officials are considering both sides of the argument, and are also looking at other measures, including reducing lanes during weekend travel and adding crossing guards during peak times.
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