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Traffic safety effects of new speed limits in Sweden
Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, Traffic and road users, Traffic Safety and Traffic System.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9164-9221
Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, Traffic and road users, Traffic Safety and Traffic System.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4680-4795
2018 (English)In: Accident Analysis and Prevention, ISSN 0001-4575, E-ISSN 1879-2057, Vol. 114, p. 34-39Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Starting 2008, the Swedish Transport Administration performed a review of the speed limits on the national rural road network. This review resulted in major changes of the speed limits on the rural road network. It was predominantly roads with a low traffic safety standard and unsatisfactory road sides that were selected for reduced speed limits, as well as roads with a good traffic safety record being selected for an increase in speed limits. During 2008 and 2009, speed limit changed on approximately 20,500 km of roads, out of which approximately 2700 km were assigned an increase, and 17,800 km were assigned a reduction in speed limits. The aim of this study is  to describe and analyse the long term traffic safety effect of increased, as well as, reduced speed limits, but also to analyse the changes in actual driving speeds due to the changed speed limits. Traffic safety effects are investigated by means of a before and after study with control group and the effects on actual mean speeds are measured by a sampling survey in which speed was measured at randomly selected sites before and after the speed limit changes.

Results show a reduction in fatalities on rural roads with reduced speed limit from 90 to 80 km/h where the number of fatalities decreased by 14 per year, while no significant changes were seen for the seriously injured. On motorways with an increased speed limit to 120 km/h, the number of seriously injured increased by about 15 per year, but no significant changes were seen for the number of deaths. The number of seriously injured increased on all types of motorways, but the worst development was seen for narrow motorways (21.5m wide). For 2 + 1 roads (a continuous three-lane cross-section with alternating passing lanes and the two directions of travel separated by a median barrier) with decreased speed limit from 110 to 100 km/h, the seriously injured decreased by about 16 per year. As regards the change of mean speeds, a decrease in speed limit with 10 km/h led to a decrease of mean speeds of around 2-3 km/h and an increase of the speed limit with 10 km/h resulted in an increase of mean speed by 3 km/h. In conclusion, the results show that in total about 17 lives per year have been saved on the road network with changed speed limits. For comparison, 397 road users were killed in total during 2008. The number of seriously injured remain in principle unchanged. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD , 2018. Vol. 114, p. 34-39
Keywords [en]
Accident rate, Speed limit, Change, Before and after study, Fatality, Injury, Increase, Decrease, Road network
National Category
Transport Systems and Logistics
Research subject
80 Road: Traffic safety and accidents, 812 Road: Collation of accident statistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:vti:diva-13164DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2017.02.003ISI: 000428829800006PubMedID: 28219638Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85013157733OAI: oai:DiVA.org:vti-13164DiVA, id: diva2:1246790
Conference
Conference on Road Safety on Five Continents (RS5C), MAY 17-19, 2016, Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL
Available from: 2018-09-10 Created: 2018-09-10 Last updated: 2018-12-11Bibliographically approved

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Vadeby, AnnaForsman, Åsa

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