Estimating the health benefits associated with a speed limit reduction to thirty kilometres per hour: A health impact assessment of noise and road traffic crashes for the Swiss city of Lausanne

Environ Int. 2020 Dec:145:106126. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2020.106126. Epub 2020 Sep 21.


Reductions of speed limits for road traffic are effective in reducing casualties, and are also increasingly promoted as an effective way to reduce noise exposure. The aim of this study was to estimate the health benefits of the implementation of 30 km/h speed limits in the city of Lausanne (136'077 inhabitants) under different scenarios addressing exposure to noise and road crashes. The study followed a standard methodology for quantitative health impact assessments to derive the number of attributable cases in relation to relevant outcomes. We compared a reference scenario (without any 30 km/h speed limits) to the current situation with partial speed limits and additional scenarios with further implementation of 30 km/h speed limits, including a whole city scenario. Compared to the reference scenario, noise reduction due to the current speed limit situation was estimated to annually prevent 1 cardiovascular death, 72 hospital admissions from cardiovascular disease, 17 incident diabetes cases, 1'127 individuals being highly annoyed and 918 individuals reporting sleep disturbances from noise. Health benefits from a reduction in road traffic crashes were less pronounced (1 severe injury and 4 minor injuries). The whole city speed reduction scenario more than doubled the annual benefits, and was the only scenario that contributed to a reduction in mortality from road traffic crashes (one death per two years). Implementing 30 km/h speed limits in a city yields health benefits due to reduction in road traffic crashes and noise exposure. We found that the benefit from noise reduction was more relevant than safety benefits.

Keywords: Annoyance; Cardiovascular disease; Casualties; Diabetes; Road traffic; Speed limits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic* / prevention & control
  • Cities
  • Health Impact Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Switzerland