Multiple groups launch initiatives to slow down drivers in Virginia, Maryland

Virginia News

File photo of traffic. (Getty Images)

ARLINGTON, Va. (WFXR) — Three national roadway safety organizations — the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF) — are partnering together to fund and evaluate pilot projects by two states to reduce speeding.

Maryland and Virginia will each receive $100,000 to develop, implement and evaluate speed management pilot programs that leverage engineering, equitable enforcement, education, public outreach, and advocacy strategies simultaneously.

“Though speed management has been a problem for decades, speeding became even more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic, as less traffic has prompted some motorists to drive at high speeds on highways and city streets across the nation. Enforcement challenges, rising speed limits — which IIHS research confirms have cost thousands of lives — and public acceptance of speeding create a demand for new strategies.”

Jonathan Adkins, GHSA Executive Director

Maryland’s project will be located in a rural setting, while Virginia’s will be in an urban area.

The speed pilots will launch once traffic patterns stabilize enough for IIHS experts to conduct a valid before-and-after evaluation of the programs. The goal is to develop a template for effective speed reduction strategies that can be duplicated in other states and communities.

“Speeding is one of the long-term problems in highway safety, and the pandemic has thrown it into stark relief. Unfortunately, this problem won’t go away when the pandemic ends. By working with other road safety groups, we can use these initiatives to speak with one voice to keep the attention focused on one of the most common factors in serious crashes.”

IIHS President David Harkey

Speeding is a leading factor in motor vehicle deaths; more than 9,000 people die each year as a result of speeding-related crashes.

As Maryland and Virginia prepare for these pilot projects, safety groups have launched other activities related to speeding during the past year and plan more initiatives in 2021.

“Speeding has always been a major factor in teen traffic deaths, and the fact that roads are less crowded during the pandemic is a recipe for disaster. Young people, who are less experienced behind the wheel, may see the open roads as an invitation to speed. But driving is a skill that requires good judgment, which is why we have dedicated ourselves to engaging young people to use their creativity to develop messages that speak to their peers and adults to be responsible drivers.”

Michelle Anderson, NRSF Director of Operations

The partnership between GHSA, IIHS, and NRSF to support the upcoming pilot programs in Maryland and Virginia was brought about following an April 2019 national forum hosted by IIHS and GHSA.

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