Montgomery County, Maryland, announced a new pilot program as part of its Vision Zero project to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2030.
The new “20 is Plenty” effort will lower speeds to 20 miles per hour on five county roads in Germantown, Silver Spring and North Bethesda.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich talked about plans shared by a number of jurisdictions across the region to eliminate roadway deaths.
“We know Vision Zero’s a big goal. And we’re not going to reach it with any one program or effort. There’s no one thing to fix this. It’s going to be a combination of efforts,” he said at a news conference Thursday in North Bethesda.
This move to lower speed limits comes after a year in which traffic volume was reduced due to COVID-19, yet the number of fatalities statewide hit near-record highs. According to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, 569 people were killed on roadways in 2020. Of those, 134 were pedestrians and 14 were cyclists.
“20 is Plenty is an important way to build awareness about the dangers of driving at dangerous speeds,” Montgomery County Council member Andrew Friedson said at the news conference. “Although we’ve had fewer drivers, we’ve had incredibly dangerous speeds during this past year.”
Montgomery County Council member Evan Glass said 2021 has not been much better, citing five deaths on roadways in the county so far.
“We have to do better,” Glass said.
Friedson said the focus by Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation has shifted. It’s no longer “just how quickly we can get from place to place, but how safely we can make sure we all can travel from place to place.”
Kristy Daphnis is the chair of the Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Traffic Safety Advisory Committee for Montgomery County.
“Excessive speed continues to be one of the top three major factors in crashes, along with distraction and impairment,” she said. “It’s up to all of us to follow posted speed limits and drive attentively.”
As part of the county’s study, the following streets will see their speeds reduced to 20 mph:
- Century Boulevard in Germantown
- Executive Boulevard in North Bethesda
- Greenwood Avenue in Long Branch
- Pinnacle Drive in Germantown
- Woodglen Drive in North Bethesda
Last month, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced her Vision Zero Summer Safety Campaign. D.C.’s goal is to eliminate transportation-related deaths by 2024. That plan includes upgrades for automatic traffic enforcement cameras.