Motordom
March 11, 2019

Speed Cameras Destroyed, Road Deaths Rise in France

Last month I wrote about the prudent initiative in France where the speed on secondary roads has now been cut back from 90 km/h to 80 km/h on the 400,000 kilometers of these roads. “Fifty-five percent of  all road deaths occur on these Class “B”  roads that have no central divider or guard rail. In 32 percent of the fatalities  on these secondary roads the major factor was speed.” 

And if you were wondering, France has 5.1 road deaths per 100,000 population; Canada has more at 6.0 road deaths per 100,000.

As The Guardian observed “The government has compared the 80 km/h limit…to the laws enacted since 1973 requiring the use of seat belts, and the installation of automatic speed radars in 2002. Those laws also drew the ire of thousands of drivers, but contributed to nearly four decades of declines in automobile deaths in France, which reached a historic low of 3,268 in 2013.” 

The reaction in France was mixed, with motoring and car clubs vehemently against the speed reductions, and in December 60 percent of the speed cameras had been vandalised.

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Kudos to the European Parliament who are not messing around about saving lives and reducing injury on European roads. Realizing that simply slowing speed on roads by one kilometer an hour would save 2,100 lives, the installation of  intelligent speed assistance (ISA) in new vehicles is being mandated to all new purchased cars in the next three years.

The ISA does not brake the vehicle, but limits the top speed by throttling engine fuel. Speed sign recognition cameras and a GPS-driven speed limit data system inform the vehicle about traveled speed.

Carlton Reid in Forbes.com observes that even though this technology has existed since the early 20th century speed regulators on vehicles have never been adopted by governments. The use of ISA if universally applied can reduce deaths by 20 percent.

Currently the vehicles with this technology can shut it off.

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While many cities have undertaken initiatives to make it safer and more convenient for walking and biking, the motor industry has been selling bigger and larger vehicles, with over 1.4 million Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and crossovers being sold in the United States in the first quarter of 2018. What is the difference between these two categories? A SUV is a vehicle built on a truck platform, while a crossover is a unibody construction on a car platform, and is supposed to  be more maneuverable and parkable. Both of these are large vehicles and are outselling sedans.

Indeed trucks and SUVs comprise 60 percent of the new vehicle purchases in the United States, and have been contributing to an increasing proportion of pedestrian deaths. From 2009 to 2016  pedestrian deaths have risen 46 percent and are directly linked to the increase of these large vehicles on the road.

Statistics show that SUVs with the high front end grille is twice as likely to kill pedestrians because of the high engine profile, but this information has not been well publicized. In the United States a federal initiative to include pedestrian crash survival into the vehicle ranking system was halted by opposing automakers.

So why are people buying these large vehicles?

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February 22, 2019

Vancouver’s Jericho Lands are essentially 90 acres of greenfield, located amid some of Canada’s most expensive and most desirable real estate.  [Ocean Views!!]

Here’s your chance to have your say about the evolving plan. Remember, though, Ken Sim and the NPA did not win council — so you won’t get a veto, even if that were possible here, given who owns the land.

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It developed as a novel method to regulate speed on local roads, and ended up being more disturbing than helpful. Leeuwarden in the Netherlands had just been named European Culture Capital and wanted to celebrate by having the  anthem of northern Friesland played out when cars drove over the nearby highway at the correct speed.

As the BBC News reported that all sounds well and good and would have been entertaining for the drivers. But no one expected that the  sound created by driving over “strategically-laid rumble strips“, would travel to adjacent residences.  The melody when driven over at 60 km/h would be loud enough to disturb citizens who called the acoustical project ” psychological torture”.

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I have been writing that there is one simple and inexpensive way to make roads safer for everyone and that is to lower the  vehicular speed limits. According to the European Transport Safety Council Switzerland is one of the safest countries in Europe to travel due to enforced speed limits that cap travel on highways at 120 km/h. Those speeds are strictly enforced by automatic cameras, with a rising scale of fines depending on how much over the limit drivers were travelling.

Via Neil Arason,  the National Post  discusses the  new 80 km/h speed limits that have been enforced in France over the last six months. Road deaths have been increasing in France, prompting the federal government to lower speed limits on 400,000 kilometers of “B” class road from 90 km/h to 80 km/h in July 2018.  Fifty-five percent of all road deaths occur on these Class “B”  roads that have no central divider or guard rail. In 32 percent of the fatalities  on these secondary roads the major factor was speed.

As The Guardian observed “The government has compared the 80 km/h limit..to the laws enacted since 1973 requiring the use of seat belts, and the installation of automatic speed radars in 2002. Those laws also drew the ire of thousands of drivers, but contributed to nearly four decades of declines in automobile deaths in France, which reached a historic low of 3,268 in 2013.”

Read more »

While everyone waits to hear what the Provincial government is recommending for the new Massey Bridge/Tunnel/Fraser River crossing, it appears that Delta NDP MLA Ravi Kahlon spilled the beans that it is not one, but three options that will be developed and released for public comment in early 2020.

As Sandor Gyarmati reports in the Delta Optimist the Province announced in November 2018 that the multi-billion dollar ten lane Massey Bridge, a pet project of the previous Provincial Liberal government was axed.

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Germany’s autobahn which began in the 1930’s is the highway built for vehicular traffic only. Germany has a rather complicated history with their love of roads and cars. It was the Nazi dictator Hitler who advocated for multiple laned  highways crisscrossing the country. Karl Benz developed the first car here, and vehicles are a cultural way of life.

The autobahn does have speed limits on one-third of its 8,000 miles . Those speed limits are near city centres and also reduce speeds for safety reasons on certain sections.  The rest of the autobahn has no speed limits. But you never hear from autobahn limitless speed supporters that “The number of deadly accidents on stretches of autobahn that have a speed limit is 26 percent lower than on those without.”

As The New York Times writer Katrin Bennhold writes Germany has extremely high carbon emissions which could be lowered if speed limits were imposed on sections of the autobahn with no regulation. The speed limits would also have the secondary benefit of saving lives too, as lower speeds means higher survival rates in crashes. But when a governmental commission suggested limiting speed, opponents somehow tied in speed limits with nationalism. Even the transport minister lost the fact that it was his department trying to lower automobile emissions when he came out and stated that “A highway speed limit was “contrary to every common sense”.

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Tom Durning picked up on news from the Valley:

I didn’t see this important meeting covered in the Vancouver-centric MSM nor much in the electronic media. Yet the mayors of the Fraser Valley had a meeting recently to discuss development out that way, ably reported by experienced Black Press reporter Matthew Claxton:

  • Read how Langley Township Mayor recognizes that widening Highway 1 is not the answer to transportation problems
  • See them discuss ride-sharing without resorting to the negativity from the slanted reporting by Mike Smyth

Unless there is a gangland killing in Surrey or Chilliwack, a major pile-up on Hwy 1 in Langley or a barn fire in Mission, these municipalities don’t get the coverage they deserve.

From the Langley Times:

The Urban Development Institute Fraser Valley hosted mayors and councillors from the Langleys, Abbotsford, Surrey, Maple Ridge, Chilliwack, and Mission for a discussion at the Langley Events Centre on Thursday. …

Every city in the valley is dealing with massive growth, with Mayor Pam Alexis of Mission noting her city was expected to double in size in the coming years. …

Abbotsford has about 1,600 housing units under construction, and 3,600 in the stream to being approved and built. …

On transportation, each community is wrestling with more traffic and expects even more issues in the future as density increases.

“Almost 70 per cent of Mission leaves every day,” noted Alexis.

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As only The Onion can report, they have narrowed down how pedestrians can stay safe crossing roads. While it is a spoof, it is telling.

Pedestrian  Adam Hartsell in Chicago “reportedly made sure to look up at the driver of an approaching vehicle Thursday to ensure they would feel extra guilty in the event they failed to stop and ran him over. “

The 26-year-old pedestrian has two approaches walking across intersections~ he “emphasized the importance of not only locking eyes with each and every oncoming driver, but also delivering a hard stare that conveys a stern moral appraisal of any who would not brake their vehicle in time. “

“In this way, I will be able to haunt their dreams long after they’ve struck and killed me. If I have enough time, I also make sure to look any passengers dead in the eyes, so that they, too, will be hounded for years by debilitating remorse. It’s important to take these small precautions.”

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