When people talk about major motor vehicle collisions, they often focus on high-speed crashes. Interstates and highways are often the location of some of the worst and most dramatic collisions that occur. The combination of high travel speeds and heavy traffic density is a dangerous one.
However, many crashes occur in areas with lower speed limits or no posted speed limit at all. Drivers and pedestrians may feel so confident when traveling in lower-speed areas that they fail to properly monitor their surroundings and protect themselves. These are a few of the common places where lower-speed, yet serious crashes can occur.
Parking lots typically see people traveling at very low speeds, but those low speeds do not guarantee safety. If anything, people become complacent in parking lots. Despite a large number of pedestrians and vehicles sharing the same space, drivers may fail to monitor their surroundings. Some may also drive at very unsafe speeds or use their phones because they aren’t on the road. Parking lots are one of the most dangerous places for pedestrians.
A large number of collisions occur very close to someone’s primary residence. Sometimes, crashes occur right at the end of someone’s driveway. Vehicles pulling out of driveways typically maintain very slow speeds. Those approaching driveways to enter them tend to decelerate rapidly. That can be very risky, especially on rural roads with higher speed limits. Collisions at or near driveways can damage vehicles and send people to the hospital. Those backing out of driveways also often fail to check for pedestrians and cyclists, leading to them causing crashes that injure others.
In theory, the speed limits in residential neighborhoods are the lowest of any type of street. In practice, drivers frequently speed because they do not expect police officers to patrol a cul-de-sac in a housing development. Drunk drivers may intentionally use residential roads to avoid police officers on busier thoroughfares. People who feel comfortable because they are close to home may also engage in less safe driving behaviors. The end result of all of these factors is that residential roads can be as unsafe as highways or freeways if people encounter the wrong individuals in traffic.
Realizing that factors other than the speed limit contribute to collision risk and severity may help people make better choices about where to drive and how to manage their vehicles in different areas.