As we strive to create safer and more livable cities, reducing traffic and speed limits can be an effective strategy to improve road safety. However, this approach can also create a false sense of security for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. With fewer cars on the road, they may feel more comfortable taking risks and assuming that drivers will be more cautious.
Creating a false sense of security
The psychology behind the increased risk of accidents in reduced traffic and speed limit conditions can be attributed to a concept known as “risk compensation.” When drivers perceive a decrease in risk due to reduced traffic and speed limits, they may become more complacent and take more risks, such as driving faster or being less vigilant. This can lead to a false sense of security and an increased likelihood of accidents.
It encourages aggressive driving behavior
Additionally, pedestrians and cyclists may become more confident in navigating the roads safely. This may lead to more aggressive behavior and a higher risk of collisions. This psychological effect can be particularly pronounced when drivers are not used to the reduced traffic and speed limits. They may be unprepared to adjust their behavior accordingly because they may not be aware of the increased risk.
How do we mitigate these risks
To mitigate these risks, there is a need to educate vulnerable road users about the dangers of reduced traffic and speed limits. They should be aware that just because fewer cars are on the road does not mean the risk of accidents has decreased. The opposite may be true. Additionally, cities can implement safety measures such as improved lighting, better road design and increased enforcement of traffic laws to protect vulnerable road users.