|An entire small town dies each year in traffic|
557 people died in traffic accidents in all of Maryland, but to pick up on a comparison of the Houston Gazette, if three almost full Southwest airplanes would crash each year at BWI, killing everyone on board, the airport would have long been closed down.
There were an estimated 40,100 motor vehicle deaths last year according to the National Safety Council. (By the way, that is more than twice the US murder rate). If US air traffic would kill 40,000 people annually (that would be 291 fully loaded Southwest Boeing 737s, the entire air traffic system would have been shut down long ago). So why are those traffic deaths accepted as part of doing business and all efforts of doing something about them (speed limits, drunk driving checkpoints, radar controls, safe and better modes of getting around?) are seen as cumbersome intrusions into the freedom of drivers? It isn't that other countries have made much more progress.
|Traffic fatalities 2012: The US on the high end between Lithuania and Korea|
While air travel has become safer, US road traffic lately has turned into the wrong direction. More and faster driving in bigger and faster vehicles. Time to reverse the deadly trends.
traffic safety in the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction. Overall traffic fatalities are on the rise, pedestrian deaths are up about 25 percent over the last four years, and increasingly, drivers are striking people and leaving them for dead, according to a new study from the AAA Foundation. The 2,049 hit-and-run deaths nationwide in 2016 were the most since record-keeping began. And nearly two-thirds of the victims were walking or biking.(Streetsblog)A new bill by councilmen Ryan Dorsey co-sponsored by 9 other council members (out of 16 total) wants to limit speed limits on Baltimore's streets to generally 25mph and in narrow residential side streets to 20mph. The two council members have previously gone on record for a new age in Baltimore's mobility by supporting "complete streets", "protected" bike lanes and better monitoring of dedicated transit lanes. All these are efforts that would make Baltimore safer.
Whereas, a 2014 report by the Maryland Highway Safety Office shows that Baltimore City’s crash rate is 370% the rate of the rest of Maryland;
Whereas, a 2018 Allstate Insurance report on driver behavior established that Baltimore ranks 200 out of 200 for Worst Drivers in the U.S., dropping in ranking from 199 in 2017;
[...] the Director must post maximum speed limit signs as follows:
(1) for a street meeting the criteria for an Arterial road or a Major Collector, as defined by the Federal Highway Administration, 25 miles per hour;
(2) for a street meeting the criteria for a Minor Collector or a Local road, as defined by the Federal Highway Administration, 20 miles per hour;
(3) for an alley, 15 miles per hour. (From Council Bill 18-286)
|Speed kills: This is especially true inside cities and towns .|
But enforcement happens on Interstates
This isn't a "war on cars" but a war on the frequently fatal abuse of cars on our streets. To make Baltimore a safer and more attractive place before autonomous vehicles will likely reduce crashes should be everybody's goal even if a diffuse SUN editorial casts some doubt..
The risk of dying in a crash with a car grows exponentially with the speed of the car and its mass which in combination provide the deadly kinetic energy which gets unleashed on somebody who either also sits in a car, or is walking or biking in or near where a fast heavy vehicle is getting out of control, for whatever reasons. The vehicles in which people move around to do their daily commuting or errands have become faster, heavier and more powerful year after year after the last fuel price spike and energy crisis which had temporarily put a dent into that trend. Driving a car has become deadlier for everybody, even for the drivers of those heavy, fast monster machines, especially if they collide with an even faster or heavier one. Those who drive a tank in the assumption it adds safety for themselves, forget that once a heavier vehicles slides, slips or gets off the road, the much larger kinetic energy also works against the occupant. It is harder to control and on impact the reactive forces are larger.
|SUVs kill pedestrians more often (Detroit Free Press)|
The cost of the car-centric transportation model is astronomic, not only in terms of lives and maimed bodies but also economically. There is lots of agony about why Baltimore has been in population and fiscal decline, why we have food and transit deserts and why so many are cut off from opportunity. Many of the causes are complicated and complex. But one single area sticks out as being responsible for many of those deficiencies: Transportation. With a drastic and courageous reversal of our failed transportation policies we can become quickly a model for livability and reduce cost in the process. Just think off that ill conceived $15 million dollar 4-lane bridge off HarborPoint which traffic engineers foisted on the City budget for no good reason.
The Transportation Director likes to talk about finding a balance between the various users of streets. Things are so far out of balance in favor of cars, that to get balance a dramatic shift is needed. It can't come soon enough. A good test case would be the citywide new design speed not to exceed 25 mph which is proposed in the City Council. Or "North Avenue Rising" the current reconfiguration design of the 5 mile corridor from Hilton to Milton funded by a federal grant and MDOT money. The typical waffling and "congestion" arguments jeopardize even the most modest expectations. Not yet too late, to make the $27 million expenditure useful. (Public meetings will be held 9/26 and 9/27).
Klaus Philipsen, FAIA
Bill would set new max speed limits (Baltimore Fishbowl)
Council member seeks to slash Baltimore speed limits to save pedestrians