Speed management is an integral part of the Safe System approach and tackling unsafe speeds is the first action to fix a transport system that fails to protect people. There is a consensus that where traffic speeds are a safety issue, lowering the speed limit is considered "reasonable and safe" for conditions. Nevertheless, not only should a speed limit be reasonable and safe, but it should also be credible. Otherwise, that posted speed limit is likely to be ignored. In many instances, speed limits are not credible and highway agencies still need guidance on appropriate procedures to set credible speed limits. The main objective of this study is to propose and test a novel methodology to set credible speed limits, based on the integration of the results achieved by numerical analyses and driving simulator experiments. The proposed methodology is innovative since it takes into consideration both the design characteristics of the road infrastructure according to a specific procedure as well as the drivers’ operating speeds, which are evaluated using the results of both speed prediction models and driving simulator experiments. The methodology was tested to set new speed limits on the A16 Naples–Canosa motorway, section Baiano–Candela, in southern Italy, where a posted speed limit of 80 km/h is installed in both travel directions and a new speed limit of 100 km/h is proposed, based on the results of the experiments developed within the methodology. Since the speed limit selection is associated with the expected crash frequency, the final selection of the speed limit should take into account also a safety impact assessment, considering both the expected change in the speed distribution as well as the effects of the safety countermeasures implemented in association to the speed limit change. In this study, the proposed safety countermeasures are the activation of four sections with point-to-point speed control and targeted measures at 45 curves, consisting of (1) high friction surface treatments, (2) correction of superelevation deficiencies, (3) installation of curve warning signs, chevrons, and sequential flashing beacons, and (4) shoulder rumble strips. The safety impact assessment shows that the increase in the speed limit combined with the implementation of the proposed safety countermeasures allows a crash reduction of 23%. The estimated benefit/cost ratio of the safety countermeasures is 4.66.
Montella, A., Calvi, A., D’Amico, F., Ferrante, C., Galante, F., Mauriello, F., et al. (2024). A methodology for setting credible speed limits based on numerical analyses and driving simulator experiments. TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH PART F: TRAFFIC PSYCHOLOGY AND BEHAVIOUR, 100, 289-307 [10.1016/j.trf.2023.12.008].