Safe speed limits for a safe system: The relationship between speed limit and fatal crash rate for different crash types

<p><b>Objective:</b> The objective of this article is to provide empirical evidence for safe speed limits that will meet the objectives of the Safe System by examining the relationship between speed limit and injury severity for different crash types, using police-reported crash data.</p> <p><b>Method:</b> Police-reported crashes from 2 Australian jurisdictions were used to calculate a fatal crash rate by speed limit and crash type. Example safe speed limits were defined using threshold risk levels.</p> <p><b>Results:</b> A positive exponential relationship between speed limit and fatality rate was found. For an example fatality rate threshold of 1 in 100 crashes it was found that safe speed limits are 40 km/h for pedestrian crashes; 50 km/h for head-on crashes; 60 km/h for hit fixed object crashes; 80 km/h for right angle, right turn, and left road/rollover crashes; and 110 km/h or more for rear-end crashes.</p> <p><b>Conclusions:</b> The positive exponential relationship between speed limit and fatal crash rate is consistent with prior research into speed and crash risk. The results indicate that speed zones of 100 km/h or more only meet the objectives of the Safe System, with regard to fatal crashes, where all crash types except rear-end crashes are exceedingly rare, such as on a high standard restricted access highway with a safe roadside design.</p>