By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Despite complaints by automobile drivers in São Paulo City about the reduction of the speed limits on major thruways, the city’s traffic engineering department (CET) says accidents have dropped by nearly thirty percent on the Tiete and Pinheiros Marginais (São Paulo’s beltway) since the measure was adopted in July.
The speed limit for the marginais fell from 90 km/hour to 70 km/hour on express lanes and from 60 km/hour to 50 km/hour on local lanes. The city has also been lowering speed limits of other important roads and avenues in the city to 50 km/hour.
According to daily O Globo, data from CET, which has not yet been made public, is expected to show not only accidents have declined but traffic jams on those thruways have declined during the afternoon period. According to the CET 73 people died last year in these two major thruways. The reduction of the speed limit is part of the city’s Life Protection Program (PPV).
Although there has been a wave of complaints on social media about the reduction of the speed limit, citizens’ groups, such as Cidadeape (Walking City), an NGO that discusses the mobility of Latin America’s largest city, have applauded the move.
“In 2014 1,200 lost their lives in the streets of São Paulo. This is an unacceptable scenario, deteriorated by an urban design which prioritizes the flow of automobile instead of the integrity of the population. Therefore, measures which will reduce the lethality of traffic are urgent,” says Cidadeape on its website.
The city plans to gradually limit the speed of vehicles in all its main roads and avenues to 50 km/hour. According to city officials the program should be fully implemented by the beginning of 2016.