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Seattle considering plan to lower speed limits all over city

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SEATTLE - Would you add another minute to your commute if it could make Seattle streets safer?

City leaders are announcing a plan to lower speed limits on many streets as part of the city's Vision Zero plan - zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.

The proposal is to change the speed limit on all residential streets from 25 to 20 mph and streets in the center city from 30 to 25 mph.

"The trade offs in this are clear, that it's a smart move," said Seattle City Council member Mike O'Brien. "Yes it may mean we drive a little bit slower but a lot of people will be and feel a lot safer."

The City Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee will discuss and vote on the proposal at its Sept. 20 meeting. The legislation will then go before the full council for a vote later this month. If passed into law, the city expects to begin rolling out speed limit changes in November.

According to the city's research, five out of 10 pedestrians survive a crash at 30 mph. But the survival rate jumps to nine out of 10 when a car is going 20 mph.

"We know that if we lower the speed limit just five mph we know it will have a huge impact on injuries and fatalities," said Seattle City council member Tim Burgess.

The Vision Zero plan is a large partnership between the city of Seattle, the Washington State Patrol, state Department of Transportation and others.

Organizers say the plan is working. Changes along Aurora Avenue North have cut serious crashes down by 28 percent.

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Lowering speed limits is just part of the project. The city is also looking at street designs, education and enforcement.

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