Transport expert pushes for 30 kph speed limit on urban roads

MANILA, Philippines — An urban planner and transport expert is pushing for a 30 kilometer-per-hour speed limit on urban roads to help reduce the risk for injury and death among pedestrians.

Robert Siy, urban planner and transport expert at Move As One Coalition, said in a media forum held by the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday that a 30-kph speed limit will bring “dramatic results” in reducing injuries and deaths among road users.

“One key principle when we look all over the world for what is the top strategy to protect vulnerable road users, it has to do with speed limits,” said Siy.

“One important prescription is if we can bring down the speed limit to 30 kilometers or less, it will deliver dramatic results in terms of reducing the incidents of injury and fatality,” he added.

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Citing data from the Safer Urban Speed Limits report of Australian-based Victoria Walks, Siy said that a pedestrian hit by a vehicle moving at 50 kph could have a 20-percent chance of dying, while a person hit by a vehicle moving at 80 kph could have a 60-percent probability of dying.

With lower speed, the incidents of fatality are “much, much lower, but it rises very fast with [increased] speed,” according to Siy.

“So how do we control speed limits? One is to have a sign saying maximum speed is 30 kph but another way is to design our roads so that vehicles naturally slow down,” he explained.

Siy noted that including humps, speed tables, and curves in road designs could help vehicles to naturally slow down. He also said that the bulk of responsibility for pedestrian safety lies on those who design, build and manage roads and those who drive the vehicles.

Under Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, passenger cars and motorcycles have 80 kph maximum allowable speed on open country roads, while motor trucks and buses can be driven at a maximum of 50 kph.

Passenger cars and motorcycles can also drive at 40 kph along “through streets” or boulevards, 30 kph on the city and municipal streets, and 20 kph on crowded streets.

Meanwhile, motor trucks and buses can be driven at 30 kph on through streets or boulevards and city and municipal streets, and 20 kph in crowded streets.

However, in 2018, the Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works and Highways, and Department of the Interior and Local Government issued Joint Memorandum Circular 2018-001, which provides local government units with standards and guidelines on speed limit setting, road classification, and road crash data collection.

Under the memorandum, the Sangguniang Panlungsod or Sangguniang Bayan may enact a speed limit ordinance for local enforcement.

Siy stressed the need to protect the vulnerable pedestrians that include children, persons with disabilities, and even the intoxicated, adding that only 10 percent of Filipino households nationwide own cars. In Metro Manila, 12 percent of households own cars.

He also said that since humans make mistakes and have physical limitations, we should create an environment where the human error will minimize injury and will not result in death.

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