Antioch officials recently gave the green light to a $1.5 million traffic calming project to curb car accidents attributed to speeding drivers on some of the city's "most dangerous streets" in the East Bay area. As reported by The Mercury News, this project stems from residents' concerns and their calls for enhanced safety on city streets. It involved a comprehensive assessment by engineers and city staff, encompassing a thorough examination of existing conditions, historical collision data, speed surveys, and traffic volumes to devise effective traffic calming measures.
What is a traffic calming project?
Traffic calming is a term coined by safety experts that refers to road enhancements strategically designed to force drivers to reduce their speed. This becomes necessary in areas prone to accidents often caused by speeding drivers, which can endanger people in other vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. Typical elements commonly integrated into traffic calming projects include:
- Traffic signs fitted with flashing lights to warn drivers to slow down.
- Electronic vehicle feedback signs that provide real-time feedback on a driver's speed and issue warnings to reduce it.
- Speed bumps or similar raised road installations are intended to slow down vehicles.
- Painting crosswalks to make them more visible to drivers.
- Curb extensions to help narrow the roadway, creating safer, protected zones for pedestrians, notably at crosswalks.
- Traffic circles and roundabouts engineered to improve intersection safety.
- Reducing traffic lanes and transforming spaces for concrete pedestrian islands, protected bike lanes, and other non-motorized usage.
Antioch's $1.5 million traffic calming plan
In response to feedback from residents and studies conducted by Antioch officials, the city has outlined its traffic calming strategy, with a primary focus on three key streets:
- James Donlon Boulevard: City officials have estimated that the traffic calming project on this boulevard will cost approximately $765,000.
- Sycamore Drive: Anticipated improvements along Sycamore Drive are expected to cost $425,000.
- West 10th Street: The plan for West 10th Street improvements will cost around $220,000.
To enhance road safety in the area, the Antioch City Council also recently decided to reduce the speed limit on both Laurel Road and Wild Horse Road from 45 mph to 40 mph.
Speed-related crashes in Antioch
An ongoing concern among Antioch residents has been the rising number of car accidents attributed to speeding drivers. Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker addressed these concerns, acknowledging, "There's been complaints of speed on Mahogany," per The Mercury News.
Data on car accidents stresses the reality of these complaints. In Contra Costa County, collisions caused by speeding drivers have been on an upward trend in recent years. Specifically, from 2017 to 2021, the number of car accident fatalities from speeding increased by 57.8 percent. There were 19 car accident fatalities due to speeding in 2017, but by 2021, this number had surged to 30, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
What makes speeding so dangerous?
Speeding is a leading cause of car accidents due to several factors:
- Reduced reaction time: Speeding reduces the time a driver has to react to unexpected situations, such as sudden stops by other vehicles, pedestrians crossing the road, or obstacles in the roadway. This smaller margin for error can result in a failure to brake or maneuver in time to avoid a collision.
- Increased stopping distance: Speeding significantly increases the distance a vehicle travels while the driver recognizes a hazard and then reacts to it by applying the brakes. The vehicle's higher velocity during speeding requires a longer distance to come to a complete stop. This longer stopping distance can lead to rear-end collisions, crashes at intersections, and accidents involving pedestrians.
- Greater collision force: Speeding increases the force of impact in a crash. A moving vehicle's kinetic energy is proportional to its speed's square. Consequently, even a small increase in speed results in a significant rise in kinetic energy, leading to more severe crashes and injuries when collisions occur.
- Reduced control: A driver has less control over their vehicle at higher speeds. Speeding can make it challenging to steer accurately, navigate corners safely, or maintain lanes. Loss of control can contribute to single-vehicle accidents, rollovers, and collisions with other vehicles.
- Decreased visibility: At higher speeds, peripheral vision narrows, making it more difficult to spot pedestrians, cyclists, or vehicles entering the roadway from side streets or driveways.
- Inadequate braking: Speeding can result in overheated brakes and reduced braking efficiency, increasing the likelihood of rear-end collisions or an inability to stop in time to avoid a crash.
- Risky behaviors: Speeding is often associated with other risky behaviors, such as distracted driving, impaired driving (due to alcohol or drugs), and aggressive driving. These behaviors increase the odds of causing accidents.
"My concern is the reckless driver," Antioch resident Leslie May said at a recent City Council meeting, according to The Mercury News. "The bad part is reckless drivers and people who don't care. They'll just run through those things or swerve to the side."
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