Reducing Speeds – Accelerating Change.
Increasingly, Australian jurisdictions are incorporating “Safe System” principles into the development of their long-term strategic planning. A primary consideration of the “Safe System” is the critical role of speed and its influence upon the incidence and severity of crashes. International research overwhelmingly points to this influence and yet significant numbers within our communities, through the prism of the media, question its veracity, at least in terms of their own decisions regarding speed choice.
This paper examines the challenge of bridging the gap between current speed management practices and those that are consistent with the “Safe System” approach. Specifically, the complementary roles of research and development, new technologies, promotion and education and demonstration projects are explored as key influencers of change. Profitable areas for complementary research and promotion include the relationship between speed choices and environmental impact, fuel economy and travel times. Intelligent speed assist (ISA) technologies hold out great promise in improving levels of speed limit compliance while projects that demonstrate the benefits of change in real-world settings provide impetus for broadly applied policy change.
The paper concludes that, while the optimum pathway is by no means certain, there are some promising directions that can act as stepping stones to help jurisdictions close the gap between the current situation and the desired speed management practices.