Safety Questions Arise As Higher Speed Limits Become The Norm

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It’s been almost 20 years since the repeal of maximum speed limits across the country.  As a result, many states have allowed higher speeds on highways, with some areas even reaching the 80 miles per hour mark and higher.   In Texas, drivers are able to go 85 mph on one stretch of road.  That’s far beyond the 65 mph limit that used to be instituted around the country.

A new report has arrived that looks at the dangerous impact this could have on safety.  In 2009, the American Journal of Public Health featured research that analyzed fatality rates in those states that had opted to raise their speed limits between 1995 and 2005.  That study discovered that fatalities that could potentially be attributed to the heightened speed limits increased by 3.2%, and when analyzing only country roads, the difference was even more pronounced at 9.1%.  In total, it was determined that higher speeds were accountable for 12,500 fatalities.

Illinois is the latest state to consider the adoption of higher speed limits.  A new bill will allow for some roads to have a 70 mph limit.  The Governors Highway Safety Association deputy director notes that such bills typically get passed because politicians are heeding the requests of an electorate that loves the idea of higher speed limits.  Many times, he says, the thought never occurs that it could be perilous to safety.