Everyone knows that speeding is dangerous, yet so many drivers still speed. The message to slow down seems to go in one ear and out the other. Simply telling drivers why they should slow down may not be the answer, according to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which indicates that the increase in speed limits in many states may be the culprit behind speed-related crashes.
Greater speed limit means more road deaths
The safety advocacy group estimates that a cumulative 36,760 deaths over the past 25 years in the United States are the result of higher posted speed limits. Approximately 13,638 of those deaths occurred on interstates and freeways, and 23,122 on other roads.
At one time, the national speed limit was 55 mph. Imagine that.
That all changed in 1993 when all but nine states increased their highway speed limits to 65 mph. Today, there are 41 states with speed limits of 70 mph or higher. Another six states have a speed limit of 80 mph, and some Texas roads even allow motorists to drive as fast as 85 mph. Indiana is among the states with a highway speed limit of 70 mph.
Charles Farmer, IIHS vice president for research and statistical services, scrutinized the cause and effect of raising the speed limit. The data shows a correlation between a 5-mph highway speed limit increase and an eight percent increase in the fatality rate. Research shows that had the speed limits on all roads stayed the same, the death toll would have been lower.
Slowing down saves lives
Traffic fatalities caused by speeding points to one primary factor – physics. The greater the speed a driver travels, the more time and distance will be required to stop. In addition, greater speed means more damage in a crash.
Research shows that lowering the speed limit may encourage drivers to slow down. A 2017 study analyzed the speeding habits of drivers in Boston before and after the city reduced its speed limits by 5 mph on some streets. For example, streets with a speed limit of 35 mph were reduced to 30 mph. The study found that drivers slowed down as a result. Even drivers who typically traveled at 40 mph in a 35 mph zone were found to reduce their speed by 5 mph in 30 mph zones.
Luckily, the number of speed-related collisions in Indiana has decreased for the third year consecutively, according to a 2017 state crash report. In 2017, approximately 18,319 crashes (184 fatal) were caused by speeding, accounting for only 8.4 percent of all statewide collisions.
The car accident attorneys at Vaughan & Vaughan have seen the devastation caused by speeding. We have seen lives turned upside down, with crash victims spending months in recovery. Our legal team is dedicated to helping injured motorists through the recovery process. Worried about medical expenses and lost wages? We’ll fight to recover every penny you’re entitled to.
Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.