Speed limits are touted by the police as a measure to keep people safe, which is why they ticket drivers who break those limits. However, it is consistently shown that interstates are some of the safest roads in the nation, with their higher speed limits.
So, which is it? Would it actually help to lower speed limits or not?
Why it would help
First of all, the arguments for lower limits often have less to do with crash odds and more to do with fatality odds. Even if someone who is driving faster is not more likely to crash, they are more likely to die — or to cause a death — if they crash.
To illustrate this, here are the odds that a pedestrian will be killed in a traffic accident, based on the speed of the car that strikes them:
- 25 miles per hour: 25% odds of deadly or at least serious injuries
- 33 miles per hour: 50% odds of deadly or serious injuries
- 41 miles per hour: 75% odds of deadly serious injuries
It has become clear that speeding increases the odds of death, even if drivers swear they can drive safely at higher speeds. It is simply inevitable that some drivers are going to crash at any speed. Therefore, lowering the speed limit and thus lowering the speed of those crashes could save lives.
Why it doesn’t make a difference
On the other hand, studies are mixed when looking at states where speed limits have been raised. Some states do see an increase in accidents, but not all. In some places, like Utah, studies actually found that crash rates dropped when people could drive faster.
Much of this has to do with the interstate highway system. While higher speeds sound more dangerous, the extensive control of the flow of traffic actually makes them safer. With all cars moving in the same direction, and with onramps and off-ramps determining when cars enter and exit that traffic, there are fewer chances for a crash at any speed.
You can get injured either way
The debate is far from settled, but it’s clear that you can get hurt — or even lose a loved one — either way. If you do, you must know about all of your legal options.