IIHS Launches Initiatives to Slow Motorists Down

by Gwen Newell
yellow slow down road sign

After a significant rise in speeding during the pandemic, IIHS and partners have launched initiatives to slow drivers down.

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

“Speeding is one of the long-term problems in highway safety, and the pandemic has thrown it into stark relief,” says IIHS President David Harkey. “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.”

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

Reducing vehicle speeds is a central component of a comprehensive approach to preventing injuries and deaths in crashes known as “safe systems.” The safe systems approach focuses on how road user behavior, road design and operation, vehicle design, and emergency response all must work together to make roads safer for everyone who uses them. Speed is an overarching factor within this model that is critical for creating a safe road environment.

This partnership between the organizations to support the upcoming pilot programs in Maryland and Virginia was conceived following an April 2019 national forum hosted by IIHS and GHSA that brought together a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss ways to address the speeding problem.

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