Browse Publications Technical Papers 2000-05-0362

Expressway speed limits: Germany is right, ECMT is tragically wrong 2000-05-0362

Three years of research, and two papers, showing a strong correspondence between traffic fatality rates and the business cycle, have proven that, alcohol aside, the fundamental cause of traffic accidents is the mentally distracted driver.
This paper is in four parts. A quick review of the discovery/development of the Driver''s Economic Distraction Indicator (DEDI - SAE 970280 on European expressways in the ''70s) and its application to all traffic fatalities in countries around the world (in F98S565). The DEDI is then updated to the ''90s while exploring: a) the use of M2 (as recommended by the American economist, Dr. Milton Friedman) instead of M1; b) OECD''S new Composite Leading Indicators; and c) the use of a locally available leading economic indicator (i.e., new vehicle sales) to give an early warning of a rise in local traffic accidents. The DEDI case studies on the long-term correspondence of economics and accident rates are expanded to Korea and, with the inclusion of South Africa and Brazil, to all 6 inhabited continents.
In the third section, the DEDI returns to its origins to demonstrate that the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) was tragically wrong in its recommendation (Budapest Council 29 and 30 May, 1996) on the harmonization of general speed limits at "120 km/h on motorways;" [from the "NOTES," 6 the German Delegation entered a reservation under this point."] The OECD report SPEED MODERATION cites ten "speed limit" studies in various countries over the previous quarter century as support for the recommendation. In every one of the ten studies the observed reduction of accidents/fatalities (wrongly attributed in each case to the imposition of a speed limit) is completely explained by the lower rate of driver distraction associated with deteriorating economic prospects. The last section discusses various technical, educational and regulatory means for distraction moderation.


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