Do higher speed limits cause an increase in car accident fatalities?
It can be difficult to remember a time when speed limits were lower on the crowded roads and freeways of Chicago. Prior to the early 1970s, posted speed limits were as high as 75 miles per hour in many states.
The National Maximum Speed Limit Law
In 1974, the federal government set the national speed limit cap at 55 miles per hour. The states were compelled to enact the speed limit laws or be hit by fines by the federal government. But in 1995, the National Maximum Speed Limit Law was appealed to allow states to have the right to set their own maximum speed limits. Posted speed limits would increase across the country and by January 2013, only Washington, D.C. kept their maximum speed limit at 55 miles per hour.
The National Maximum Speed Limit was in response to the 1973 oil crisis and the initial goal was to conserve gasoline. In addition, researchers began reporting a decrease in fatal automotive accidents. More than half of all vehicular accidents can be at least partially credited to someone driving at an excessive speed, often leading to severe injuries or death of drivers and passengers.
Speed-Related Car Accidents
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that more than 30,000 deaths from auto accidents have been linked to higher speed limits. The study featured records from more than 40 states – excluding the states and the nation’s capital for not having enough annual miles to give an accurate rating.
While overall fatalities decreased over the past 20 years, the number of vehicle deaths from speed-related accidents have increased. Other factors that were considered included the time these fatal accidents happened, the number of younger drivers entering the roadways, an increased unemployment rate, and how much alcohol was consumed in these states.
These numbers were then compared to the number of deaths that would have likely occurred without the increased speed limits during that timeframe. After making the necessary comparisons, it was found that there was about a four percent increase for every five miles per hour added in the maximum speed limit on regular roadways. That increase in fatality risk was doubled to eight percent for every five miles per hour added to the maximum.
Chicago Car Accident Lawyer
State legislators continue to debate how to appropriately set the limits on a maximum speed limit. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a speeding driver, consult a Chicago car accident lawyer to make a claim against the at-fault driver. Call Willens Law Offices at (312) 957-4166.