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Los Angeles to Change the Way It Sets Speed Limits on City Streets

Los Angeles to Change the Way It Sets Speed Limits on City Streets

A new law going into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, may help change how Los Angeles determines its roadway speed limits.

According to a Nexstar Media Wire report, before Assembly Bill 43, Los Angeles had been setting speed limits using the “85% rule.” That means that 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. However, 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 and other California cities to increase over time. This method, however, did not consider other uses of the street, such as pedestrian activity or even what speed the street was originally designed or engineered for.

According to LAist, 640 pedestrians lost their lives as a result of vehicle collisions on the city’s streets between 2016 and 2020.

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.

LADOT is currently 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, 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 instance, the risk of serious injury or death for a pedestrian hit by a car traveling at 25 mph is comparable to that for a pedestrian hit 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 with high pedestrian traffic.

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. In that case, you may be able to seek compensation for the injuries, damages, and losses suffered. An experienced Los Angeles pedestrian accident lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options better.


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