Paul Murray in The West Australian Saturday 12.2.12 opposes lower speed in areas where vulnerable road users have to share the roads with people driving cars. He suggests that speed reductions have little or no impact on the death rates due to traffic crashes (wow…..) and goes on to say “we would all be a lot safer if we stayed perfectly still”. (I sometimes forgett that he is a talk-back radio host, but his populist rants remind me….). See here: Paul Murray on speed 12.2.12
Our (really measured) response we sent to The West Australian:
I admit that I consider that most articles written by Paul Murray are intended to ‘stir’ rather than present a balanced view of the topic, and last Saturday’s (12th February) article was no exception.
Titled ‘A hazardous road’ it was a car focussed rant against the proposal to impose a 30kph speed limit on suburban roads, specifically near areas of high pedestrian activity such as shopping centres, hospitals, schools and aged care homes.
The crux of his argument is that road safety strategies aimed at reducing driver speed and prosecuting drink drivers were not responsible for reduction in the road toll, the reduction was a direct result new car safety devices such as anti lock braking, seatbelts, airbags, and electronic stability control. Paul Murray does not seem to be able to discriminate between internal devices designed to reduce the impact of a collision on car occupants, and the impact of an uncontrolled vehicle hitting a pedestrian. He does not discriminate between fatalities of car occupants and non car occupants.
Murray goes on to argue that as ‘drivers were fully responsible for pedestrian deaths in ONLY 12% of cases’ there is a need to change pedestrian behaviour or the circumstances in which pedestrians come in conflict with traffic. Surely a 30kph speed limit in conflict areas is just such a change in circumstances.
It is true that safer cars have had a impact on the overall road toll (mainly because this led to less car occupants being killed), but countries that have included lower speed environments where vulnerable road users and cars mix reduced their road toll substantially more than countries that did not. Seatbelts and airbags are of no use to a pedestrian being hit by a car….
It has been established that a pedestrian hit by a vehicle travelling at greater than 40kph has virtually no chance of survival, so the imposition of a 30kph limit in conflict areas makes perfect sense.