Do higher speed limits cause more traffic accidents?
Recently, state lawmakers in North Dakota spent nearly an hour debating whether the state should raise its speed limit from 75 miles per hour to 80 mph.
If passed, the five-mph increase would be restricted to two major highways in the state: interstates 29 and 94 — two roads that see a heavy amount of large truck traffic.
Speed Limits Are Set by the States
If you have ever taken a road trip across several states, you have probably noticed that the speed limits can vary widely from state to state. If you fail to keep an eye on posted speed limits, you may accidentally drive too fast when you cross a state border.
Although the federal government has at various times attempted to control state speed limits by withholding federal funding from states that failed to comply with national speed limit laws, Congress repealed the National Maximum Speed Limit in 1995. Following the repeal, the right to set speed limits reverted to the states.
Now, 41 states across the country have speed limits of 70 mph or higher. In Georgia, the maximum state speed limit is 65 mph for both cars and trucks.
Do Higher Speed Limits Mean More Accidents?
According to those who oppose the proposed speed limit increase in North Dakota, even a five-mph hike will result in more traffic accidents.
Citing a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the deputy director for engineering at the North Dakota Department of Transportation told lawmakers that research shows that a five-mph increase in speed limits is associated with an eight percent increase in fatal interstate accidents.
Supporters of the proposed speed limit increase say it will save motorists money by resulting in fewer speeding tickets. They also claim that individuals who drive 50,000 miles a year could save up to one hour a week in time due to faster speed limits.
Do higher speed limits cause more traffic accidents? The data shows that they do.
Personal Injury Attorney Amy Witherite of 1-800-Truck-Wreck explains, “Higher speed limits have been shown to lead to more fatal traffic accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speed limit increases have caused 33,000 deaths over a 20-year period.”
The IIHS study also reveals that speed limit increases caused 1,300 deaths in 2013 alone. Furthermore, researchers say the 33,000 fatalities figure is probably an underestimate.
If you have been injured in a tractor-trailer accident or other type of motor vehicle accident, protect your rights by speaking to a lawyer today. Contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options and the next steps in your case.