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SDOT finishes lowering speed limit on most Seattle streets to 25mph

A 25mph lower speed limit sign in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of SDOT/Flickr)

The Seattle Department of Transportation reported this week that it has finished reducing the speed limit on most major streets in the city to 25 miles per hour.

This marks the completion of a citywide safety improvement as part of Seattle’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to prevent crashes and save lives. The long-term goal of the initiative is to “end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.”

Seattle reduces speed limits, adds new signals as part of initiative to end traffic deaths

According to a release from SDOT about the reduced speed limits, “case studies have shown a 20-40% drop in crashes on streets where Seattle lowered speed limits.”

SDOT says there are 415 miles of arterial streets now marked at the 25mph limit, which is almost all of the streets managed by the department. New speed limit signs were installed to be more visible, and placed much more frequently.

The default speed limit on arterial streets, which includes most streets with a dividing center line or multiple lanes, is 25mph unless there is a sign to state otherwise. Smaller streets without a dividing line and near schools when children are present have a speed limit of 20mph.

“Speed is a critical factor in the frequency and severity of crashes,” the SDOT release reads. “When drivers slow down by just a few miles per hour, it makes crashes less likely to occur in the first place and also makes people much more likely to survive a crash. A person hit by a car traveling at 25mph is twice as likely to survive than a person hit by a car traveling at 30mph.”

Despite reducing speed limits, updating traffic signals in Seattle to prioritize pedestrians, and starting to redesign some of the most dangerous city streets — like Rainier Avenue South and Lake City Way — data indicates that 24 people died in vehicles-related crashes last year. That makes 2020 “one of the most deadly of recent years.”

Read more about the lower speed limits on SDOT’s blog here. View the Seattle Speed Limit Map here.

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