Reaching our goal to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries will require everyone - drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike - to work together. Legislative efforts, like lowering the speed limit, combined with enhanced street design, education and enforcement policies work together to create a street system and standard of behavior that dramatically reduces the consequences of everyday mistakes. Mistakes can and will happen, but they should not be deadly or lead to serious, life-altering injury.
When drivers are going 25 mph, drivers and pedestrians have more time to see each other and react. This small 5 mph decrease in speed means that many crashes can be avoided altogether. If a crash happens, it’s less likely to cause serious injury or death.
The graphic below shows the likelihood of fatal or severe injury for pedestrians struck by drivers traveling at various speeds. If you only consider fatal crashes, pedestrians have a 20% chance of being killed by a driver traveling at 30 mph. There’s a 12% chance of a pedestrian being killed by a driver traveling at 25 mph.1
Likelihood of fatal or severe injury for pedestrians struck by drivers traveling at these speeds.1
This new law is just one aspect of the Mayor’s Vision Zero Action Plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries. The plan sets out a robust platform of policies, street design, and education to reduce traffic fatalities in Boston. You can learn more about Vision Zero.
Boston’s 25 mph default speed limit is on par with other major U.S. and international cities that have made it a priority to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on their streets. Some of these cities include New York City, Los Angeles, London, Paris, and Berlin, and Tokyo.
The new speed limit won’t have an impact on your ability to get around efficiently in Boston. Vehicle speed is primarily determined by factors like traffic congestion, double-parked vehicles, turning vehicles, and traffic signals.
The lower speed limit also will not impact speeds during the most congested times of day. Many drivers are already traveling at speeds below 25 mph during these times.