Higher speed limits linked to more traffic fatalities

As a large state, Texas presents motorists with long stretches of road. That’s why lawmakers have chosen to raise speed limits over the years. One road even allows people to travel at 85 mph. Forty-one states have increased speed limits since the national 55 mph rule ended in 1995. Researchers looking at the possible link between higher speed limits and increased traffic fatalities determined that 36,760 extra deaths occurred nationwide due to higher speed limits.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analyzed data about traffic deaths from 1993 to 2017. Researchers adjusted their calculations to control for factors such as wearing seat belts, driver age and unemployment rates. They discovered that traffic deaths went up by 8.5% for every extra 5 mph allowed by the speed limit. The IIHS study concluded that a 55 mph speed limit would have prevented approximately 1,900 fatalities in 2017.

The Auto Test Center run by Consumer Reports agreed that higher speeds contributed to deaths involving motor vehicles. The death rate would have been even higher except that technological advances in vehicle design and safety systems have reduced traffic deaths overall.

Lawmakers typically approve higher speed limits because they are supposed to save busy people time. Safety advocates argue that time savings are minimal and not worth the risk of allowing for faster travel. Someone traveling at 70 mph compared to 65 mph during a 100-mile trip only gains between 6 and 7 minutes of time.

Traveling above the speed limit can represent negligence when the guilty party causes an accident. A car accident victim could recover financial damages from the responsible driver. Legal counsel could help a plaintiff understand rights and avoid accepting an inadequate insurance settlement. The attorney might collect evidence to strengthen the personal injury claim and file a lawsuit.