In recent years, there has been a trend towards increasing speed limits. LA Times reports speed limits have been going up nationwide, reflecting the "more-harried" lifestyle of drivers. Since 2005, 13 states have increased their speed limits. States now have speeds as high as 80 MPH on certain stretches of interstate and some are even considering going to 85 MPH.
In Florida, the maximum speed limit on rural highways is 65 and on urban highways the maximum speed limit is 70 . However, residents still need to be concerned about rising speed limits as they drive locally and throughout the United States. As states trend towards ever-increasing limits, others will follow suit because of political pressure to raise their own speeding caps. Georgia, for example, was one of the 13 states that increased its speed limit and the higher limits there could create political pressure for nearby Florida to take similar action. The faster a car is going, the more significant risk a motor vehicle accident will occur.
Rising Speed Limits Creates Increased Risk of Motor Vehicle Accidents
Research has clearly shown higher speed limits can be dangerous. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates the "safety consequences of raising speed limits" are clear. There will be more accidents, and more severe crashes, if the trend continues towards increasing speed limits.
When a state increases its speed limit by five miles per hour, this only reduces the amount of time it takes to drive across the country by around two hours. However, it significantly increase the chance of injuries or death in accidents, especially if a pedestrian is involved in the collision. A more significant increase in the speed limit can have an especially profound impact on road safety. When the speed limit goes from 40 MPH to 60 MPH hour, the speed limit has increased by 50 percent but the energy generated by a crash increases 125 percent.
Speed is already a leading contributor of motor vehicle accidents. Nationwide, 29 percent of deaths in car accidents are attributed to speeding. A total of 9,613 people died in 2013 in speeding-related collisions. Speeding-related accidents have a cost of $52 billion annually.
Speeding increases the stopping distance of a car, so the vehicle will travel for a longer period of time and will go farther after a driver identifies an emergency and hits the brakes. It also increases the crash energy significantly, so when two cars collide and are going faster, there is significantly more energy transferred to occupants.
There are limits to the amount of energy which can be effectively managed when cars collide, so systems like barriers, crash cushions and restraint systems in vehicles are less effective when cars are going too fast.
Before speed limits continue to go up, these very real risks need to be addressed.