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Slow down, Seattle: City council proposing lower speed limits

Speeds on some residential streets would drop from 30 mph to 20 mph and and from 35 to 30 mph on others

The Seattle City Council is announcing plans today to lower speed limits on many of Seattle’s streets as part of an ongoing effort to cut down on traffic fatalities and injuries.

The proposal, which is part of the city’s Vision Zero plan, calls for speeds on some residential streets to drop from 30 mph to 20 mph and and from 35 to 30 mph on others.

Per the city, a pedestrian hit by a vehicle going 40 mph has a 1-in-10 chance of surviving while one hit by a car going 20 mph has a 9-in-10 chance. Their research says that while pedestrians and bicyclists only make-up five percent of total collisions, they result in nearly 50 percent of fatalities.

One region that would be impacted hugely by the chance is the Downtown Seattle area. Most of the streets that make up Belltown, Downtown, and Pioneer Square would see their speed limits drop from 30 mph to 25 mph.

According to one estimate, the average car trip in Seattle goes for 3.5 miles. Dropping the speed limits would likely add 17 seconds per mile, or roughly one minute, to those trips.

The city says that right now approximately 20 people are killed in traffic collisions and another 150 are seriously injured each year. The goal of the Vision Zero plan is to have zero traffic fatalities and injuries by 2030.