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Awareness Campaign Uses Skeleton Signs to Slow Down Drivers

Sometimes it takes a graphic image to incite people to do, or deter them from doing something. We’ve seen the strategy used in campaigns from everything to stopping consumers from smoking to striking fear in the hearts of drunk drivers. Now, one New York company has teamed up with New York City’s Department of Transportation to use a similar method in an awareness campaign to reduce speeding. Of course, speeding is one of the primary causes of car accidents and is a major contributing factor in the seriousness of injuries in a pedestrian accident.

If a driver is following the speed limit when approaching the new two-paneled electronic matrix sign, the traditional image of a pedestrian will appear in the top panel, along with the driver’s rate of speed. If the radar detects the driver is exceeding the speed limit, the pixilated image of a skeleton will appear in the bottom panel, along with an emphatic warning to slow down. Personal injury lawyers see cases everyday in which these signals may have made a difference.

The campaign was primarily inspired by the following statistic: When a pedestrian is struck at 30mph by a vehicle, there is an 80% chance they will survive. If a pedestrian is struck at 40mph, there is a 70% chance they will die. 10mph, a seemingly subtle difference while you are behind the wheel, is the difference between life and death as a pedestrian.

According to the New York Times, the campaign will hit the city’s streets sometime this summer. Atlanta car accident attorneys wonder whether this unique tactic designed to curtail speeders is one that will be adopted in Georgia. Novel ideas are certainly needed. Georgia’s Department of Transportation says that from 2000 to 2006 in Georgia over six million people were involved in a motor vehicle crash either as a driver or passenger or pedestrian. A majority of those accidents involved people who failed to yield to pedestrians while turning, or were speeding, texting or talking on cell phones, or otherwise distracted. For now, it seems that only time will reveal whether New York’s plan turns out to be a success, or just yet another distraction.

While I think this is a worthy effort, I think there are other methods of slowing cars down at intersections that are likely to be more effective. For instance, camera controlled intersections have had a great deal of success. These are intersections with mounted cameras . If a car runs a stop light, the camera takes a photograph and the person is issued a citation. Prior to reaching the intersection, signs are posted to warn of the intersection. Persons who regularly pass through the intersection very quickly learn not to speed when approaching the intersection. Due to the increasing number of these intersections, all drivers have become more alert to this type of intersection. The net result is an ever decreasing number of speeding cars through these intersections.

Other methods to reduce speeding include higher fines which are prominently posted on roadways, an increased number of police cars patrolling busy streets and intersections, electronic speed warning devices that tell motorists how fast they are traveling and improved driver education programs for repeat offenders. All of the efforts described in this post are worthwhile endeavors. In the end, any decrease in the number of speeding vehicles saves lives.