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Speeding is reduced thanks to local efforts in Maryland

Speeding is one of the deadliest issues affecting road safety in America, injuring and killing pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. But, thanks to a local experiment in Maryland, this experiment could become a national example of how to reduce speeding.

Three national traffic safety groups have teamed up with the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to learn what can be done to reduce speeds to make roads safer, especially as road deaths are at their highest level for 16 years and that speed is a main reason.

To reduce speeding, a pilot program was started to increase high visibility traffic enforcement on MD 367, they narrowed the lanes, they posted speed signs and they let people know that if the drivers accelerated, they would be stopped.

Speeding offenses have dropped by nearly 80% and average speed by 9%. But, once the program ended, speeding increased again.

The combination of smarter infrastructure engineering, public engagement and traffic enforcement are the keys to safer roads if you ask the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). But, as GHSA explains, road safety enforcement has recently taken a back seat in many communities.

“As we’ve seen this happen, we’ve seen risky driving behavior explode on our roads,” said GHSA’s Pam Fischer. “We need law enforcement to get these people off the road to keep everyone safe.”

The multi-pronged effort on MD 367 was supported by a $100,000 grant from the GHSA, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and the National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF).

“The effects seem to have persisted for many drivers, but not for the most aggressive speeders,” says Wen Hu, IIHS Senior Transportation Research Engineer, lead author of the study. “We believe efforts must be sustained to be successful in the long term and reduce speeding-related crashes and fatalities.”