The traffic authority cuts speed limits on downtown traffic junctions by 10 km per hour to avoid casualties
Dignitaries on participate in a ceremony to open the 11th Transportation Culture Development Conference, held under the theme, “Speed Reduction Makes You to Find People.” (Photo: NewsWorld)
The Korea Transportation Safety Authority (TS) conducted a series of tests on the relationship between pedestrian injuries and car speed at its driving ranges.
When the speed of a car in downtown areas was cut by 10 km per hour, the chances for serious damage were cut by 20 percent.
For the tests, cars ran over a “dummy” at various speeds, 60 km, 50 km and 30 km and then the dummies were analyzed. Collisions at high speeds caused heavier damage and heads were singled out as the part of the body that got the most severe impact from the collisions.
When cars were running at a speed of 60 km per hour, the odds of humans being badly damaged were calculated to be 92.6 percent. In cases of heavy damage to the head, the chances for survival were estimated at 20 percent. When the collision occurs at 60km per hour, 4,078 pedestrians would be killed.
For collisions at 57 km per hour, the chances of pedestrians getting badly injured were below 72.7 percent with 2,697 getting serious head damages. At below 30 km per hour, the chances of bad injuries fell below 15.4 percent, the lowest among the speeds tested.
TS said the chances of getting killed were high among pedestrians because they didn’t have safety gear, while the drivers had protection. To look at the accident records in the past five years, head-to-head collisions among cars had 1.2 people dying while the car-to-pedestrian collision had 3.7 people dying, three times more than the car-to-car collision.
The pedestrian death rate in Korea was much higher compared with the OECD record, In the traffic accident death among 100,000 population, Korea recorded 3.5 deaths per 100,000 population, while OECD record was 1.1 deaths per 100,000 in population based on 2015 record.
The speed limit for cars in cities was set at around 50 km per hour in most OECD cities countries, but in Korea the speed limit on many local roadways is over 60 km per hour.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Transportation has been trying to bring down the speed limits in major cities to below 50 km per hour from 60 km per hour. The ministry will streamline the regulations this year so that they can be followed from next year.
The areas that need special caution, including residential areas and school zones, the speed limit will be 30 km per hour. The width of the roads will be narrowed as the speed limits are lowered.
This year the traffic law will be updated so that road regulations can be automatically applied when new highways and roads are built or updated.
For improvement of the pedestrian road environment, the traffic law should be applied for the “pedestrian priority” roads so that supplement facilities can be built at inexpensive costs. The protective section will also be built and managed for the residents of villages where traffic accidents are liable to occur more often.
President Kwon Byung-yune of TS said lowering speed limits by the City Dep’t. is needed to secure “advanced country” level traffic safety, and the government should push for it amid the support from widespread societal support.