Data released by the Traffic Engineering Company (CET), notes a fall in the rate of accidents after the reduction of speed limits to 40 km/h (25 mph) on many roads.
According to the data, there was a 71% reduction in the number of deaths resulting from transit accidents and pedestrian fatalities. Between August of 2012 and September of 2013, the region had 167 accidents, with seven deaths. Between November 2013 and December 2014, after the speed reduction, there were 136 accidents with two deaths. The reductions of the number of accidents in general was 18.5%.
Recently, the city also reduced the speed on Tietê and Pinheiros “Marginal” highways (the term "Marginal" refers to a highway that borders on a river waterfront). The measure was not well accepted by the community, in particular by citizens who get around by car. Among the criticisms was a possible increase in travel time on these roads.
The municipal secretary of transport, Jilmar Tatto, refuted the argument of the motorists, and stressed that the volume of cars increased. "From the points of view of the flow of vehicles, the Marginals show that the average speed has increased, therefore improving traffic. From a safety point of view, the preliminary data from other locations where we've put a 40 km/h area, as well as the 50 locations where we've installed a ciclovia, the number of accidents, particularly fatal ones, has decreased."
In 2012, São Paulo registered 26,932 accidents with a victim who suffered injuries or was killed. In the following year, with the interventions of the Plan for the Protection of Life (PPV), this figure fell to 25,508. Last year there were 23,547 accidents of this type. The number of pedestrians hit by a car was 7,759 in 2012. The next year it was 7,202 and in 2013 6,482.
The new plan is to reduce speeds on almost all streets to 50 km/h (31 mph). After the announcement, the criticism returned to the forefront, and was endorsed by newspaper editorials. The outcry concentrates on the argument that cars, which already face heavy transit, will not be able to reach high speeds. According to measurements from the CET, between 4 and 5 PM, the average speed of cars in 2013 was 7.9 km/h, and during the evening peak, between 5 and 8 PM, the mean speed was 6.9 km/h.
"We have a decision to reduce the speed limit in the entire city. With the exception of the stretch of Avenida 23 de Maio from Bandeira Square to the João Julião Overpass, and the central and express lanes of the Marginais, all of the roads in the city of São Paulo will have a maximum speed limit of 50km/h. It is clear that in certain parts of the city, like the central region, you could have a lower speed limit," stated the secretary.
Studies by the organization WRI Brasil-EMBARQ note that a pedestrian accident involving a vehicle traveling at 60 km/h has a fatality risk of over 80%, as compared to a 50% risk if the car is driving at 50 km/h.
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Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.