Florida is home to some of the most dangerous highways in the United States, so why is the speed limit actually going up on one of the area's most heavily-used toll roads?
The speed limit has been increased from 55 mph to 60 mph on State Road 408, which is part of a network of major arteries that surround Orlando. Managed by the Central Florida Expressway Authority, officials say the speed limit increase is for the safety of everyone.
Here's what drivers in Longwood, FL, and the Greater Orlando area need to know.
Counterintuitive or reasonable?
By now, you're probably aware that speeding greatly increases your risk of being involved in a bad car accident. When we look at the science of speeding, we see that for every 10 mph of increased speed, your odds of being in a fatal crash are doubled.
For instance, if you're traveling 50 mph and increase your speed to 60 mph, your risk of dying in a collision goes up two-fold.
The severity of any motor vehicle collision increases exponentially with speed, and you can't beat physics. That's why for years the Florida Highway Patrol has assigned troopers in targeted locations along S.R. 408 to enforce the speed limit.
But the agency has limited resources, other toll roads to keep safe, and has been unsuccessful so far in its attempts to secure funding for more enforcement operations on S.R. 408, which is the region's main east-west transportation spine.
The solution? Bump up the speed limit from 55 mph to 60 mph.
While the decision to increase the 50-year-old speed limit by 5 mph may seem puzzling to some, officials say not only can it be done to improve safety, it should be done to improve safety.
According to the Central Florida Expressway Authority:
New improvements favor a higher speed limit
Lanes have been added, interchanges revamped, and high-speed toll plazas have been installed along S.R. 408. Again, the 55 mph speed limit was created 50 years ago. With new improvements to the highway, the agency believes a 5 mph increase is appropriate.
Most drivers already go over 55 mph
About 85% of the drivers who travel along the 12-mile-long toll road go between 66 mph and 78 mph, while the remaining 15% obey the 55 mph speed limit.
Fast drivers + slow drivers = trouble
Any time you have a fast vehicle coming up on a slower vehicle, there's potential for a rear-end collision because the fast vehicle might not slow down quickly enough to avoid a crash with the slower vehicle. The difference in speed also encourages drivers to make unsafe lane changes. Boosting the speed limit by 5 mph should somewhat help ease the disparity in how fast every motorist goes on S.R. 408, officials say, but follow-up studies must be done to see how traffic patterns and accidents are impacted by the increase.
What if the speed limit increase makes things worse?
Of course, an unintentional outcome of upping the speed limit from 55 mph to 60 mph on S.R. 408 could be that drivers decide it's ok to go even faster than they already do on that road, creating an even more dangerous scenario for themselves and others.
Remember, 85% of the motorists who use the toll road already go between 66-78 mph. What if now, when they see the speed limit is 60 mph, they think it's ok to drive 70 mph, 80 mph, or faster?
The reality is speeding will most likely always be an issue on busy highways around Longwood and Orlando. And if you're injured in a crash caused by someone who was speeding, you have the right to pursue financial compensation for all your accident-related expenses.
The problem is insurance companies DO NOT want to pay you the full value of your claim. They are in business to make money, and they have a financial incentive to pay you as little money as possible so they can keep it for themselves.
As such, it's common for insurance adjusters to "lowball" crash victims in settlement offers, misrepresent coverage, purposefully delay injury claims, and insist that "you don't need to call a lawyer." Then, once they're done talking to you, they hang up and call theirs.
If you were injured or a loved one died in a car accident anywhere in the Greater Orlando area, you owe it to yourself to call a lawyer so that you can learn your rights and explore your legal options.
At the Law Offices of Scott M. Miller, PLLC in Longwood, we've been dealing with insurance companies and fighting for the rights of crash victims in Florida for decades. We know all their tricks and how to counter them, and we understand what needs to be done to secure the compensation you're entitled to.
Let an experienced car accident lawyer fight for every dollar you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation and to see how we can help you.