Sample Press Release: Slow down--and increase neighborhood safety 12 times

October is Walk to School Month and Pedestrian Safety Month in Missouri.

Here is sample press release you can modify as needed and send to your local newspaper.

Press release
For immediate release

Contact: XXX

Slow down--and increase neighborhood safety 12 times

Let's say you're driving through a residential area in MYTOWN where a few neighbors are out on or near the road, walking, chatting, bicycling, or doing some yard work.

Which should you do?

1. Just hit the accelerator because you're in a hurry.
2. Keep it to 5-10 miles over the speed limit because you won't get a ticket that way.
3. Drive the speed limit.
4. Slow down below the speed limit as needed for safety.
Based on my recent experiences [WALKING, BICYCLING, YARD WORK, JOGGING, WHATHEVER YOU DO] on my street, most MYTOWN drivers think #1 or #2 are the right answer.

A few solid citizens are pleased with themselves for remembering to drive the speed limit for a few moments.

But almost everyone seems to have forgotten that according to state law, #4 is the only correct answer--and the only safe answer.

The Missouri Driver Guide summarizes the situation:

Your highest duty as a motorist is to drive your vehicle carefully and prudently. Your speed and manner of driving must create a safe environment for yourself and other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists.

Speed limit signs indicate the maximum speed allowed by law, and do not mean that all parts of the road can be safely driven at those speeds under all conditions. The speed limit is the maximum allowable speed in ideal conditions. Adjust your speed for hills, curves, slippery roadways, limited sight distance, pedestrians, bicyclists, and slow-moving vehicles. These conditions may make the posted speed limit unsafe. By law, when conditions demand it, you must slow down.

In all situations, whether the pedestrians are obeying the law or not, you must drive carefully, reduce your speed if needed, and do your best to avoid endangering pedestrians.

Watch out for kids. Children will run out into the road without looking for traffic. So, be extra careful when you drive near schools, playgrounds, parks, or in residential areas.

On residential streets, especially those with parked cars, travel at or below the speed limit.
And slowing down for people is not just the law--it's a good idea. People walking or doing yard work in their neighborhoods very properly feel intimidated when cars drive by just a few feet away at 30 to 35 MPH.

The reason is that the automobile's danger to people grows exponentially as speed increases.

At 20 MPH motor vehicles coexist quite safely with people. But at 35 MPH the danger of death is very real. Increasing speed from 20 MPH to 35 MPH:
  • More than doubles stopping distance
  • Increases risk of pedestrian death in case of collision from 5% to 60%
So do not be surprised if you neighbors become upset if you speed through their neighborhoods--you have just increased the danger to them by more than 12 times.

But I was driving the speed limit! Why does the law say I need to do more?

Because simply slowing down from 25 MPH to 20 MPH has surprisingly high benefits:
  • Cuts stopping distance 30%
  • Reduces risk of pedestrian death in case of collision from 20% to 5%
MYTOWN residents want to be good citizens and good neighbors. Maybe we have just forgotten how dangerous it is to speed through neighborhoods.

Slow down when you're driving through a neighborhood, and slow down even more when you see people. It's the law and it's common sense.

You could save a life and you'll certainly help make MYTOWN a place people want to live.

XXXX, [is president of the MYTOWN BIKE CLUB, or whatever you actually are], lives on XXXXXX Street and would like to remind everyone that XXXXXX neighbors have asked the MYTOWN police to step up speed patrols in our neighborhood this month.