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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Assessing the Safety Implication of Alternative Speed Limits in California

  • Author(s): Musabbir, Sarder Rafee;
  • Zhang, Michael, PhD
  • et al.

Published Web Location

https://doi.org/10.7922/G2SX6BF0
Abstract

This project combined the statewide crash data (SWIRTS) and traffic data (PeMS) to develop statistical models to determine the safety impacts of alternative speed limits on California highways. The models examined whether various factors about crashes, including average traffic speed and truck-involvement, correlated with outcomes such as crash severity. The models were then used to test the impact of four alternative speed limit policies (B-E) on the predicted number of fatal crashes and unsafe-speed related crashes in urban and rural areas. The policies were: (A) Existing differential speed policy for cars (65 mph) and trucks (55 mph); (B) Raising the speed limit on interstates for trucks from 55 to 65 mph; (C) Raising the speed limit on interstates from 55 to 75 mph for trucks and 65 to 75 mph for cars; (D) Lowering the existing differential speed on interstates from 55 to 50mph for trucks and 65 to 60 mph for cars; (E) Raising the existing differential speed on interstates from 55 to 70 mph for trucks and 65 to 80 mph for cars. The policy analysis shows a difference in the predicted number of crashes (fatal, unsafe speed) in and between urban and rural areas. The percentage increase/decrease in predicted fatal crashes in rural areas is lower than urban areas across all policy alternatives.

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