Six months after Florida state legislators passed House Bill 657, which approved speed detection systems to enforce school-zone speed limits, Altumint, a public safety technology company, completed a report on road safety.
Speed detection systems are “portable or automated fixed systems used to detect a motor vehicle’s speed using radar, or LiDAR, and to capture a photograph or video of the rear of a motor vehicle that exceeds the speed limit [enforced] at the time of the violation.”
The Altumint report examined speed camera programs in four U.S. cities: Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago. Speed cameras reduced accidents resulting in injury or death by an average of 30%, according to The Cochrane Collaboration, a British organization that reviews healthcare decisions.
“Road safety is important to every citizen everywhere,” said Holly Cooper, CEO of Altumint. “It’s the way we function as a country to get from here to there. It’s one of the areas in which we can address and safely reduce the risk for those people using all of our roadways.”
Florida is ranked the third-highest in pedestrian fatalities in the country, according to the report. A 2023 Consumer Pulse survey found that 38% of Floridians said they have driven over the speed limit in an active school zone.
“Speeding drivers produces a risk for pedestrians and students, in particular, because as a car travels at a faster rate, it increases the stopping distance necessary for a driver to react with a motor vehicle,” Cooper said. “The higher rate of speed, the less likely you are to survive as a pedestrian.”
Speed detection systems use LiDAR, light detection and ranging, to determine the speed of a vehicle. The speed cameras are required to be active 30 minutes before and after school hours, according to HB 657. Drivers who speed 10 miles per hour above the speed limit during school hours in school zones will receive a traffic citation.
“Students have distractions of their own,” she said. “It’s extremely important we’re encouraging drivers to follow the reduced speed limits before and after school and even during the school day when children may be coming and going.”
A pedestrian has a 10% to 15% chance of survival if hit by a vehicle driving 40 miles per hour. Every 10 miles driven over 50 miles per hour doubles the risk of a crash.
From 2010 to 2021, there has been a 77% increase in pedestrian fatalities compared to a 25% increase in other traffic fatalities, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
“Vehicles have become more safe,” Cooper said. “This increased safety has left drivers with a unique sense that we are safe just because of the vehicle that we drive.”
In 2020, there were 695 pedestrian deaths in Florida and 817 deaths in 2021. Annual reports for 2022 and 2023 are not available on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.
“We are still in control of a very heavy object traveling at high rates of speed and need to be aware of our surroundings,” she said. “Just because we’re protected as a driver doesn’t mean that everything in our environment are protected.”
Dixie County and Suwannee County ranked second and third, respectively, in the state of Florida for pedestrian deaths per person. Marion County and Alachua County ranked No. 12 and No. 23 in pedestrian deaths, respectively.
“I’m hoping the viewers and readers of our report really understand what impact they can have on their own communities,” she said. “We can create a safer environment and let the police deal with more egregious violations that are occurring.”
“All of these things that can come from a simple automated enforcement program start with us being educated as citizens of how we can protect our cities,” she said.