Should we have 100km/h speed limit for residential areas?

Residential area citizens

Think of an Irish residential area as a place with a bunch of houses built. Where people live en-masse. Where people live out their lives inside and outside. It’s where work on their gardens, walk to the shop, or walk to school. Where kids are brought up. Where people grow old.

Now let me ask you this question:

Should residential areas have speed limits of 100km/h?

If you replied yes, then this post is not for you, I kindly ask you to leave 😉

If you replied no, then why did you answer no?

I’ll assume that your reasoning has something to do with the view that it’s too dangerous.

The danger to you is not really the question, because you’re free to put yourself in danger. It’s the real danger you’re posing to other people  is the crux of the matter.

Why do you think it’s too dangerous to drive at 100km/h in a residential area?  Travelling at that speed means that:

  1. The time you have to react to an “obstacle” is minuscule
  2. The physical impact of your vehicle on the thing (person) it hits would be devastating

As a sidenote, an underlying working principle today in Ireland is: I am driving my car on this road, and you do not have the right to get in my way. If you are crossing the road and you do not get out of my way, I may not “see” you until it’s “too late”. This societal behaviour is part of the context for the next question:

If 100km/h is not a reasonable speed to drive at, what is a reasonable speed in a residential area?

I’d define reasonable as a speed where you’re highly unlikely of doing damage to another person, be it that the person is in a vehicle or not, and including the full cross-section of ages of people living in the area.

The European Commission cites a study by Tingvall & Haworth (1999), where they say the principle of “appropriate speed limits” is set on:

The driver/vehicle/road system should operate such that, in the event of an impact, forces are not exerted on vehicle occupants or other road users which are likely to lead to a fatality. 

Note that this study is looking at the WORST case scenario of death. They are not even considering what speed limit would avoid major brain injury.

That same EC page states that based on this study, “where pedestrians are present, vehicle speeds should be no higher than 30km/h“.

So the academics and EC have concluded that, no, residential areas should not have speed limits have 100km/h. That in order to “reasonably” avoid people being killed by others driving their cars, a “safe speed” LIMIT for our residential areas is 30km/h.