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Increasing Speed Limits Increase Accident Risks

This summer as you travel throughout the United States on road trips or vacations, you may notice something different: many of the interstates now have higher speed limits. Governing.com reports that four state legislatures voted this year to increase speed limits, spurred on by a Texas decision to create the highest speed limit in the U.S. 794996_speed_limit.jpg

Our Boston car accident lawyers know that the faster a car is going, the greater the chances of an accident happening. Not only that, but high speeds also increase the chances that an accident will be a serious one since cars that are going faster hit with more force. The trend towards increasing speed limits throughout the United States is thus a troubling one and you need to remember as you go on your summer trips that the key is to drive at a safe speed, even if that sometimes means going slower than you are legally allowed to go.

Higher Speed Limits Increase Accident Risks
Governing.com indicates that Texas kicked off a push to increase speed limits when it made the speed limit 85 miles per hour on a 41-mile stretch of road located between Austin and San Antonio last year. Now, other states have been passing their own increases, climbing ever higher than the national speed limit of 55 miles per hour created by the federal government in 1974 in response to an oil crisis.

Some of the states that have recently increased their speed limits include Ohio which went from 65 miles per hour on its freeways to 70 miles per hour. Utah upped their speed limit from 75 miles to 80, and Maine moved the speed limit on Interstate 295 to 75 miles per hour up from 65 miles per hour.

Those in favor of increasing speed limits indicate that the accident rate is not impacted by speed limit hikes and argue that faster speed limits will encourage more efficient travel throughout the United States.

Unfortunately, safety advocates disagree with those in favor of upping speed limits. The Governor Highway Safety Association has indicated that even if higher speeds don’t increase the number of accidents, they do make accidents much more serious when they happen. Obviously, if two cars are going faster, they collide with much more momentum and force. The increase force and bigger impact of the collision means that a motorist is more likely to be seriously injured or even killed in the crash.

The data showing that higher speed limits don’t necessarily need to more crashes has also not been conclusively confirmed yet, and is also not necessarily true in all situations or on all roadways. When cars are going faster, there is a greater chance that the vehicle will lose control. The car also has a longer stopping distance so is more likely to be involved in a rear-end crash or a multi-car pileup.

Despite the clear risks of a rising speed limit, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that lawmakers are politically motivated to raise speed limits because increasing speed limits is popular. Just because something is popular, though, does not mean that it is the right or the safe thing to do.

If you or a loved one was hurt in a car accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

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Seat Belts Still First Line of Defense for Summer Travel Season, Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, May 18, 2013