Seattle begins lower speed limits

Seattle cut speeds on city streets on Monday. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- Seattle slashed speed limits on more than 2,400 miles of city streets on Monday.

"What we're seeing is pedestrians, unfortunately, are getting hit and killed far more often on our streets" said Jim Curtin of the Seattle Department of Transportation. "This is a measure to reduce the frequency of collisions."

Depending on the street, speed limits dropped from 25 to 20 mph or 30 to 25 mph.

"We know that if a pedestrian is hit at 30 miles per hour their chance of survival is about 50 percent," Curtin said. "If you reduce that by five to 10 miles an hour, if you're hit at 20 miles per hour you have a 90 percent chance of survival."

City leaders and the Transportation Department have been working on the lower speed limits for more than a year.

For commuter, cyclist and walker Jensa Ferguson, it is a welcome change.

"As someone who is even a bit of a lead foot it's a good reminder for me to slow down," Ferguson.

She says there is no need to Seattle's speed limits to be so high

"I purposefully drive the backroads here, and I go through school zones so I force myself to drive 20 mph and know what that feels like."

Replacing nearly 150 speed limit signs was the first step. Next come online and bus added. The Seattle Police Department will be issuing warnings, not citations, over the next two weeks.

"Hopefully it will get people to slow down as our commutes go on and our nights get a long longer and darker," Curtin said.

The Transportation Department says there is a change that police will extend the two-week grace period.

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