Accident Risk Lowered With New Road Design
Accident Risk Lowered With New Road Design: When a particular road is the scene of more traffic accidents than usual, what is the first thing that usually happens? New signs go up, new traffic signals are installed, or the road is widened. But do these help?
What if less is actually better? That’s an idea a new school of thought in traffic engineering is considering in a growing number of communities. Here in Florida, urban planners for the city of West Palm Beach have redesigned some of the busiest streets by narrowing the roadbed, removing signals, eliminating turn lanes, and bringing pedestrians, bicycles, and cars together. This slows the flow of traffic, resulting in fewer pedestrian and car accidents. Fewer accidents result in shorter trip times. Ironically, it seems that driving more slowly has the effect of getting people to their destinations more quickly—as well as with less risk.
This new way of looking at transportation design has been used in a number of European countries with great success. In Christianfield, Denmark, when all traffic signals and signs were removed from its major intersection, the number of serious accidents was reduced from three to zero. Since the village of Oosterwald in the Netherlands redesigned a main intersection in 1999 by removing all traffic signals and creating a kind of public square, mixing motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians, there have been no serious accidents—and that’s with around 5000 cars per day passing through each day!
The theory behind this design revolution is that road architecture, as opposed to road signs, is more effective in influencing driving behavior; making a road appear more dangerous makes everyone more alert, thereby increasing safety and decreasing accidents. When drivers are forced to be aware of pedestrians and cyclists, they have to be alert their surroundings and to the intentions of those with whom they are sharing the road. Making eye contact becomes important. The design introduces a human element into driving decisions.
As we have written about on several occasions, Transportation for America’s “Dangerous by Design” study found that the four most deadly metropolitan areas in the United States for pedestrians are in Florida. One reason, according to the study, is the number of multi-lane arterial highways with long distances between crosswalks. These roads encourage faster driving and discourage walking. When drivers encounter few people walking, pedestrian safety is far from their minds. They often fail to yield to a pedestrian when they encounter one, which results in more serious pedestrian accidents.
The new design can have a powerful impact on the quality of life in an area. In West Palm Beach, slowing the traffic down with narrow two-lane streets has made these neighborhoods more attractive to pedestrians, who now feel safer. A whole new way of thinking about traffic and urban design is what is needed to make getting around in Florida safer for pedestrians and motorists.
Clearwater Attorney, Jim Dodson, handles Florida personal injury cases involving car accidents, vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian, bicycle accidents, slip, trip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, wrongful death and child injury.
We represent personal injury and accident victims in Florida in these cities: Clearwater, Clearwater Beach, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Largo, Oldsmar, St. Petersburg, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Pinellas Park, Seminole, Belleair, Belleair Bluffs, Belleair Shores,Treasure Island, Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Crystal Beach, Ozona, Bradenton, Palmetto, Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Ellenton, Kenneth City, South Pasadena, St. Petersburg Beach, Tierra Verde, New Port Richey, Port Richey, Hudson, Bayonet Point, Holiday, Land O’Lakes, Lutz, Odessa, Tampa, Temple Terrace, Dade City, Sebring, Wesley Chapel, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Hillsborough County, Manatee County, and all other cities in Florida and Florida Counties.
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