Virginia Set to Pass Bill Lowering Minimum Speed Limit

The Virginia General Assembly has passed a bill that would allow localities to set speed limits as low as 15 miles per hour.

March 17, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

15 MPH speed limit sign

Chris Martin on Flickr / 15 MPH

A bill in Virginia's General Assembly could allow localities to set speed limits as low as 15 miles per hour, a minimum limit currently set by the state at 25 miles per hour.

While "ten miles per hour difference may not seem huge," writes Wyatt Gordon in the Virginia Mercury, the change "could mean the difference between life and death" for pedestrians involved in traffic collisions. Del. Betsy Carr of Richmond, who is championing the bill, told the Virginia Mercury that the commonwealth saw 123 pedestrian fatalities in 2020, around 16% of the state's total.

The 25 mph policy has precedent in the United States, with 25 mph as the standard lowest speed limit in most American states. Brantley Tyndall, director of outreach for Bike Walk RVA, cites the combination of more speeding-related fatalities and fewer crashes in Virginia last year as a sign of the increased risk of death for people involved in collisions. Other cities, including Portland, Oregon and Boston, have recently gained local control of  speed limit regulations. According to Gordon, with "speed [as] the number one predictor of the severity of a car crash," advocates of HB 1903 "believe the arguments in favor of 15 mph should be clear."

Thursday, March 11, 2021 in The Virginia Mercury

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