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Fatal traffic accidents take place more on general roads

Fatal traffic accidents take place more on general roads

Posted April. 17, 2018 08:19,   

Updated April. 17, 2018 08:19


As many as 194 people died of car accidents caused by speeding in Korea in 2016, while 144 died in 2013 for the same cause. The figure soared by 34 percent in three years. The number of people died from the total car accidents during the same period, however, fell by 16 percent.

Many would think that fatal accidents caused by speeding mostly take place on highways or city motorways. But that is exactly the opposite in reality. As many as 96 percent of the speeding accident victims died on typical roadways. The speed limit for typical roadways is generally 60 kilometers. Some regions, including Seoul, have roadways that are used by both pedestrians and cars and have speed limits of 70 kilometers or 80 kilometers. The case in point is Yangjae-daero, whose roads are frequently used by pedestrians with six crosswalks but the speed limit is still 70 kilometers.

According to Samsung Traffic Safety Research Institute, Korea has the highest speed limit with 80 kilometers being the highest, among 16 major countries around the world. The rest of the countries mostly have a speed limit of 50 kilometers. Only some countries such as the United States, Japan and the Netherlands, have a speed limit of 60 kilometers on some roads, where pedestrians rarely use. In Denmark, the number of traffic accidents dropped by 24 percent after its government lowered the speed limit from 60 kilometers to 50 kilometers. In Australia, death caused by car accidents dropped by 12 percent and serious injuries fell by 40 percent after the speed limit was lowered to 50 kilometers.

These countries decided to lower the speed limit as higher speed limit did not shorten the driving time in cities. In cities, traffic lights and crosswalks installed every several hundred meters, or even every 100 meters, on top of heavy traffic make it difficult for cars to speed up to the limit. A research team led by Dr. Han Sang-jin of the Korea Transport Institute investigated the general roads in Ulsan from 2013 to 2016 and found out that the speed of cars in cities is highly affected by traffic signal system, such as intersection. The speed limit had little impact on the speed. It turned out that it took shorter for a car to travel 1 kilometer on a road with a speed limit of 50 kilometers than on a road with a speed limit of 60 kilometers.

“Cities with many cars and pedestrians naturally have more traffic accidents. That is why we need to manage the speed of cars in order to reduce the number of accidents. The number of car accidents can be reduced simply by reducing the speed limit,” said Kim Sang-ok, a senior researcher at Samsung Traffic Safety Research Institute.

Hyung-Seok Seo skytree08@donga.com