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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(10), 10269-10291; doi:10.3390/ijerph111010269

A Health Impact Assessment of a Proposed Bill to Decrease Speed Limits on Local Roads in Massachusetts (U.S.A.)

1
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 401 Park Drive, Boston, MA 02215, USA
2
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, 401 Park Drive, Boston, MA 02215, USA
3
Metropolitan Area Planning Council, 60 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111, USA
4
Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard School of Public Health, 401 Park Drive, Boston, MA 02215, USA
5
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Division of Prevention and Wellness, 250 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02108, USA
6
Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, 9 Bow Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 August 2014 / Revised: 19 September 2014 / Accepted: 23 September 2014 / Published: 2 October 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Impact Assessment: Realizing Its Potential)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [902 KB, uploaded 2 October 2014]   |  

Abstract

Decreasing traffic speeds increases the amount of time drivers have to react to road hazards, potentially averting collisions, and makes crashes that do happen less severe. Boston’s regional planning agency, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), conducted a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) that examined the potential health impacts of a proposed bill in the state legislature to lower the default speed limits on local roads from 30 miles per hour (mph) to 25 mph. The aim was to reduce vehicle speeds on local roads to a limit that is safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and children. The passage of this proposed legislation could have had far-reaching and potentially important public health impacts. Lower default speed limits may prevent around 18 fatalities and 1200 serious injuries to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians each year, as well as promote active transportation by making local roads feel more hospitable to cyclists and pedestrians. While a lower speed limit would increase congestion and slightly worsen air quality, the benefits outweigh the costs from both a health and economic perspective and would save the state approximately $62 million annually from prevented fatalities and injuries. View Full-Text
Keywords: health impact assessment; speed limits; crashes; injury prevention; air pollution; physical activity; monetization health impact assessment; speed limits; crashes; injury prevention; air pollution; physical activity; monetization
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

James, P.; Ito, K.; Banay, R.F.; Buonocore, J.J.; Wood, B.; Arcaya, M.C. A Health Impact Assessment of a Proposed Bill to Decrease Speed Limits on Local Roads in Massachusetts (U.S.A.). Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 10269-10291.

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