Edmonton's 40 km/h speed zones cutting crashes, injuries: Study

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Edmonton’s 40 km/h speed limit has already made city streets significantly safer, shows a recently-published study.

The study by the University of Alberta in collaboration with the city found since the launch of the slower speed limit in August 2021, the number of crashes has gone down by 25 per cent, representing about 518 fewer crashes per year.

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Overall injuries and fatalities went down by almost a third, or 31 per cent. That included a 42 per cent reduction in injuries and fatalities among people walking, cycling, or using e-scooters.

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The move saw speed limits reduced from 50 km/h in most residential and downtown streets, including parts of Whyte Avenue and Jasper Avenue, but didn’t impact most of the city’s major roads. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, there were 12 traffic fatalities in Edmonton, and research at the time suggested the change could trigger a 10 per cent reduction in serious injury collisions.

Edmonton’s Vision Zero goal is to have no more traffic-related fatalities or serious injuries by 2032.

The analysis included collecting speed surveys at 219 locations across Edmonton, before and after implementing the speed reduction, to figure out how driving behaviours may have changed. It showed a decrease in speed ranging from 3.2 km/h to 8.1 km/h at over half the survey locations.

The study found that central core neighbourhoods saw the biggest reduction in collisions, but seven out of the top 10 neighbourhoods seeing increased collision numbers were cul de sac neighbourhoods.

“There were still areas where drivers did not slow down,” the report noted, highlighting the need for further research into extra measures the city could take.

Speed limit signs could help drop higher rates of collisions at “entrance collectors,” where local traffic is connected to busier streets, the report’s authors said.

At the outset, implementing the new rules and putting up signage cost the city about $1.1 million from the traffic safety reserve budget.

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