Slowing Down During the #SeattleSqueeze

There’s this saying that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, in some ways, the next 3 weeks present us with a series of opportunities to squeeze the heck out of some lemons. And with today’s sunshine and clear skies, it almost (almost) feels like we’re not in the middle of winter – lemonade is sounding pretty delightful.

But let’s get back to reality. It’s Monday, January 14, the first weekday after the permanent closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the three-week #Realign99 closure to align SR 99 into the new tunnel. The concern around traffic congestion increasing with the permanent viaduct closure is a real thing. Life is going to slow down a bit, and for many people, not by choice.

Look Out For Each Other

While our morning and evening commutes may feel more jammed over the next 3 weeks (and beyond), we’re hopeful the slower pace will result in safety gains for everyone.

That’s because slowing down has serious upsides. When it comes to traffic crashes (ahem, not accidents), speed is the critical factor in their frequency and severity. It’s not rocket science, just basic physics. When we slow down, we can take in our surroundings better, which helps us make better decisions. If you do get into a crash, the consequences go down as you slow down (#rhymetime).

Vehicle Travel Info
With speed, the consequences increase or decrease, depending on how fast you’re going.

That’s why we lowered speed limits across the city in 2016, why school zones and all residential streets are set at 20 MPH, and why we’re evaluating and lowering speed limits in urban villages. Speed matters and is a key piece of our Vision Zero strategy.

We all have a role to play in making Seattle’s streets even safer, and if you’re behind the wheel (especially during this particularly constrained time), you play a critical part. Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind.

#SeattleSqueeze safety tips (drivers Ed-ition, get it? 😉):

  • Just say no to road rage – deep breaths, deep breaths…
  • Slow down – 20 is plenty!
  • Pay attention – phone down, heads up
  • Look out for each other – oh hey, fellow travelers

Traffic is never any fun (unless you scored a sweet seat on the bus and are deep into a good read or podcast 😉). We’ve all got places to go, things to do, and people to see. As we round out day 1 of the region’s new transportation normal, let’s remember to take a collective deep breath, keep calm, and travel on, safely.