A new law going into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, may help change the way Los Angeles determines its speed limits on roadways.
According to a Nexstar Media Wire report, before Assembly Bill 43, Los Angeles had been setting speed limits using the “85% rule.” What that means is every few years, the Department of Transportation comes out to a street, monitors how fast everyone is going, and sets the new speed limit at the 85th percentile.
But a new law is set to change this process.
How Speed Limits Are Set
This practice, which became the standard, caused speed limits in Los Angeles as well as other California cities to be increased over time. This method, however, gave no consideration to other uses of the street such as pedestrian activity or even what speed the street was originally designed or engineered for. According to LAist, between 2016 and 2020, 640 pedestrians died on the city’s streets after being struck by vehicles.
So, how does AB 43 change this situation? It gives cities more control and makes it easier to lower speed limits in areas where safety is an issue such as business districts where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic.
Roadways that have a history of pedestrian accidents will also become eligible for speed reductions. The legislation passed easily both in the state assembly and senate.
Right now, LADOT is working with city officials to determine which streets and corridors should be a top priority for reduced street limits. One example is Olympic Boulevard near Overland. In February, a pedestrian was killed in the area and yet the speed limit was raised. Safety advocates are hoping that new rules will reduce the high number of pedestrian deaths.
Speed and Pedestrian Accidents
A study done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that the average risk of severe injury for a pedestrian struck by a vehicle reaches 10% at an impact speed of 16 mph, 25% at 23 mph, 50% at 31 mph, 75% at 39 mph and 90% at 46 mph. The average risk of death reaches 10% at an impact speed of 16 mph, 50% at 42 mph, and 90% at 58 mph.
Risks also vary significantly by age. For example, the average risk of severe injury or death for a 70-year-old pedestrian struck by a car traveling at 25 mph is similar to the risk for a 30-year-old pedestrian struck at 35 mph.
We hope this new law limits traffic speeds to levels that are unlikely to result in severe injury or death especially in locations where pedestrian traffic is high.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a speeding driver or a driver who is operating at unsafe speeds given traffic weather and roadway conditions, you may be able to seek compensation for the injuries, damages, and losses suffered. An experienced Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyer can help you better understand your legal rights and options.