Research shows narrower roads are safer and better for the environment / Public News Service



New research reveals the importance of road design, especially as it relates to traffic and pedestrian safety.

According to the National Transportation Research Project, traffic fatalities in Nevada increased by 30% from 2019 to 2022.

Sima Hamidi, director of the Center for Climate Change and Smart Transportation and assistant professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University, helped lead the study.

She said switching lane widths from 11 to 12 feet to 9 feet could reduce traffic accidents.

“But what this study, a nationwide study of more than 1,100 U.S. streets, found is that wider roads give drivers a false sense of security and cause them to drive faster. ,” Hamidi said.

Hamidi argued that speed is the main cause of most accidents, and that narrower roads tend to make drivers more cautious.

Research shows that increasing lane width from 9 feet to 12 feet increases road crashes by 1.5 times.

The report includes policy recommendations such as prioritizing street design over driving speed and functionality.

Mr Hamidi said another benefit of narrowing lane widths had to do with the environmental impact it could have on local communities. She said less asphalt used on streets and roads means less heat.

“Really,” Hamidi said. “The cause of the urban heat island is one of the most difficult climate change problems of our time, and it all comes down to lane width.”

Hamidi said city and state transportation departments are working on lane reduction projects and other efforts such as adding bike lanes and wider sidewalks to make what she called roads “more livable.” He added that they can be combined.

For those concerned about traffic congestion, Hamidi said narrower roads will likely slow traffic, but that doesn’t mean traffic will increase.

“This could help many people switch from cars to other modes of transport, such as cycling or walking, and could lead to reduced greenhouse gas emissions from transport,” Hamidi said.

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