Back to News

June 07, 2024

Lawmakers across U.S. weigh options for reducing traffic-related deaths

Amid the highest number of pedestrians killed in decades, localities are pushing to control how speed limits are set and for more accountability on road design (Source: “‘So Much Death’: Lawmakers Weigh Stricter Speed Limits, Safer Roads for Pedestrians,” Kaiser Health News, June 3).

This spring, New York and Michigan passed laws allowing local jurisdictions to lower speed limits. In Los Angeles, voters approved a measure that forces the city to act on its own safety improvement plan, mandating that the city redesign streets, add bike lanes and protect cyclists, transit riders and pedestrians.

Still, there’s plenty of political resistance to speed enforcement. In California’s Statehouse, Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) proposed requiring GPS-equipped smart devices in new cars and trucks to prevent excessive speeding. But after pushback, the state lawmaker watered down his bill to require all vehicles sold in the state starting in 2032 to have only warning systems that alert drivers when they exceed the speed limit by more than 10 mph.

Although the Biden administration is championing Vision Zero — its commitment to zero traffic deaths — and injecting more than $20 billion in funding for transportation safety programs through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, road safety advocates and some lawmakers argue that the country is still far from making streets and vehicles safe, or slowing drivers down.