Lowering neighborhood speed limits by 5 mph boosts odds of survival

25 mph speed limit sign in Austin neighborhood (KXAN Photo)
25 mph speed limit sign in Austin neighborhood (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Experts say lowering speed limits in neighborhoods by just 5 mph could mean the difference between life and death.

Texas State Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, filed House Bill 1368, otherwise known as the Safe Neighborhood Streets Bill, which would lower the default speed limit in Texas neighborhoods from 30 to 25 mph.

Kathy Sokolic, whose nephew was critically injured after he was hit by a car in the Mueller neighborhood, said it’s a miracle he lived. “He should have died. The car was going at least 30 miles per hour — the speed limit,” she said.

In November 2016, the Pedestrian Advisory Council, Walk Austin, Vision Zero ATX and several other pedestrian advocacy groups agreed: 25 mph was safer. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 47 percent of all pedestrians struck at 30 miles per hour suffer critical injuries and 1 in 5 die.

Those numbers decrease significantly when the speed limit drops to 25 miles per hour: Thirty percent of pedestrians are hurt and 12 percent are killed.

The city engineer said at the time that replacing the speed limit signs costs about $150 each.

Thursday, the Austin City Council chose to postpone their decision on whether to lower speed limits along sections of South Lamar Boulevard and Parmer Lane.

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