In 1995, lawmakers decided that the national speed limit of 55 mph was no longer necessary. A new report by The American Journal of Public Health has found than an increase in fatal car accidents can be directly attributable to that decision.
According to the New York Times, “The ‘failed policy of increased speed limits,’ researchers write, was to blame for an estimated 12,500 (wrongful) deaths over a 10-year period.”
As auto accident lawyers, we know that car accidents at higher speeds have a greater risk of wrongful death. When 12,500 wrongful deaths from fatal car accidents happen, we listen.
Congress initially set a national speed limit of 55 mph way back in 1974. Beginning in 1987, the government began allowing some highways to post higher speed limits, and speed limits have continued to rise ever since then.
While fatal car accidents decreased in 1974, car crash wrongful deaths have increased an average of about 3 percent since 1995.
Speed limits vary by as much as 20 mph in different states. According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speed limits range from 60 mph in Hawaii to as high as 80 mph in select locations (Texas, Utah) on the nation’s interstate highways.
One way to reduce these wrongful death statistics is to improve the overall enforcement of the speed limits. Since speed limits are higher than ever before, any driver that speeds is likely to do so at an extremely high rate of speed. Speeding is one of the top causes of car accidents, and car accidents at high speeds cause more wrongful deaths. If police officers could limit the amount of speeding drivers by issuing more speeding tickets, then perhaps we can limit some of these fatal car crashes or prevent drunk driving incidents on high speed roads.
The report even recommends lowering the national speed limit back to 55 mph.
“We survived for 20 years on it,” the lead author said. “We were doing perfectly fine.”
As car accident attorneys, we certainly know about the dangers of speeding. While the debate over the national speed limit is ongoing, we believe that all car drivers should follow the posted speed limit signs — regardless of what number is shown.
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