Some Facts About High Speed Limits and Car Accidents
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that a total of 32,675 people died in motor vehicle accidents or soon thereafter as a result of injuries suffered from those accidents. This recent estimate of deaths was tied to over $242 billion dollars of taxpayer expense for annual economic ramifications of these deadly accidents. The high death toll of accidents is attributed to impaired driving, speeding, non-use of seat belts, distracted driving and other bad driving behaviors. Sadly, bad behaviors are the common denominator in these deaths, regardless of precise actions.
About 28 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths in 2014 were proven to be caused by speeding. Speeding has been the attributed factor for 30 percent of crash deaths since 2005. The definition of speeding when it comes to auto accidents includes crashes wherein the driver was ticketed for excess of speed or due to behaviors such as driving too fast for road or weather conditions, racing or blatantly exceeding posted speed limits.
Surprisingly, interstates and freeways where speed limits are higher are not necessarily where the danger lies, or where most accidents from this cause occur. In 2014, speed related auto accident deaths happened more frequently on minor roadways. 35 percent of these deadly high-speed car accidents happened on roads that were not highways. Interstates and freeways were the scene of only about 29 percent of deadly accidents blamed for speeds and other major roads with high posted limits were the site of only 25 percent of car accident deaths.
About half of the speed related fatalities of 2014 occurred on roads with legal limits of less than 55 miles per hour. These slower paced streets resulted in 9,262 related deaths.
But the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) blames more deadly crashes on increased limits. Researchers attributed 1,900 deaths in 2013 on roads with higher speed limits. They claim these fatal accidents counterbalance lives saved by airbags during the same year.
Car Accidents due to High Speed Limits are Common
According to studies, speeding is a factor in about one-third of all car crashes. It is a common occurrence as a car accident lawyer to see these types of related crashes. Unfortunately, people read crash reports and watch on the news the amount of accidents on a regular basis and never get used to the number of people injured due to the negligence of a speeding driver.
Despite the abundance of evidence regarding high-speed limit related car crashes, states and many cities continue to increase roadway speed limits, thinking auto safety innovations mean that drivers can drive at higher speeds without greater risk.
Some states feature speed limits as high as 80 miles per hour, while others enforce slow limits of as low as five miles per hour. These limits are constantly being challenged by the public and changing to meet a seeming desire for speed.
Since 2005, over one dozen U.S. states have increased their statewide speed limits. While it was only a few decades ago that “Drive 55” was a national highway travel safety marketing slogan, most highways today could use a slogan of “Drive 75,” with others able to claim “Drive 85” as a way to remind drivers of regional speed limits. This is a major change in a very short period of time.
Such changes are often due to nothing more than old-fashioned peer pressure, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. When one state increases its speed and citizens applaud the change, neighboring states follow suit. Sadly, this occurs regardless to consequences of speed-related accidents. Our advice, be mindful of your speed limit and remember to be alert of others around you.