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The link between speed limit increases and road deaths

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2020 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

While you may appreciate a higher speed limit when you are trying to make up time on a road trip, the fact of the matter is, higher speed limits lead to more crashes. More crashes, then, lead to more injuries and road deaths. This raises important questions about whether raising the speed limits in certain areas is ever actually worthwhile.

According to Transport Topics, a new study reveals that communities could have saved more than 36,000 lives over 25 years had they not increased their speed limits to the maximum speed allowed. The study examined crashes that occurred between 1993 and 2017, and its results raise important questions about whether speed limits are too high nationwide.

Alarming statistics

Just how much of a connection exists between maximum speed limits and an increase in road deaths? Study results indicate that every time a maximum speed limit increases by 5 mph, communities see an 8.5% uptick in road deaths on major highways and interstates. On all other roadways, traffic fatalities increase by about 2.8% when maximum speed limits increase by 5%.

Minimal time saved

While some argue that higher speed limits help citizens get where they need to go more quickly, research shows that any time drivers make up because of higher speed limits is nominal. If you are traveling 100 mph, for example, you would only save about 6.6 minutes by traveling in a 70-mph zone as opposed to a 65-mph zone. Similarly, if you are traveling at 80 mph instead of 75 mph and covering 100 miles, you are only going to save about five minutes by traveling at a higher speed.

Simply put, higher speed limits do not save you any substantial amount of time. If motorists are not experiencing any notable benefits from higher speed limits and are, in fact, more likely to die in traffic as a result of them, is there really any point in raising them?