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Lower speed limits linked to reduced pedestrian fatalities

It may come as no surprise to Texas residents that pedestrians are likely to be seriously injured or killed when they are struck by a fast moving vehicle, but research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that older pedestrians are particularly vulnerable. The AAA researchers used federal accident data compiled between 1994 and 1998, and they discovered that a 70-year-old pedestrian is as likely to be killed by a car traveling at 35 mph as a 30-year-old is when struck by a vehicle traveling at 45 mph.

The data also indicates that auto-pedestrian accidents become significantly more dangerous when the vehicles involved are traveling at speeds in excess of 20 mph, and just a 5 mph increase in speed from 25 mph to 30 mph was found to increase pedestrian fatality rates by 70 percent. Lawmakers around the country seem to be aware of these statistics, and efforts to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities often combine lower speed limits with strict law enforcement.

In 2015, New York City recorded the lowest number of traffic deaths since 1910, and safety advocates gave much of the credit to the city's Vision Zero initiative that featured reduced speed limits, designated slow zones and the criminal prosecution of reckless drivers. A 2010 study performed on behalf of the London Department of Transport also identified a surge in pedestrian fatalities when vehicle speeds exceeded 30 mph.

Establishing the speed of the vehicle involved is often crucial in lawsuits filed on behalf of injured pedestrians, and personal injury attorneys will review police reports and eyewitness statements for indications that the motorist involved was driving recklessly. When these efforts fail to produce conclusive evidence, attorneys may scour the area for security cameras that could have recorded the events.

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