Small, But Deadly: Study Warns of Minimal Speed Limit Increases
As speed limits tick up in states around the country, an advocacy and research group is warning that small increases in speed make severe injury or death more likely in the event of a crash.
“Cars are safer than they’ve ever been, but nobody’s figured out how to make them defy the laws of physics,” David Harkey, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said in a statement announcing the release of a new study showing the impact of rising speeds. “Rather than raising speed limits, states should vigorously enforce the limits they have.”
IIHS researchers conducted crash tests with cars traveling at three different speeds: 40, 50, and 56 miles per hour. As speeds increased, cars and crash test dummies suffered significantly more damage, IIHS said.
“Higher speed limits cancel out the benefits of vehicle safety improvements like airbags and improved structural designs,” Harkey said. “The faster a driver is going before a crash, the less likely it is that they’ll be able to get down to a survivable speed even if they have a chance to brake before impact.”
A total of 41 states across the country allow speed limits of 70 miles per hour or more on certain roads, according to IIHS. At least eight of those states allow maximum speeds of 80 mph.
IIHS released a study in 2019 in which the group concluded that increases in speed limits have resulted in 37,000 deaths over the previous 25 years.
Any benefits of raising speed limits are just not worth it, said David Yang, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s executive director said. The foundation participated in the latest IIHS crash study.
“A speeding driver may arrive at their destination a few minutes faster,” Yang said, “but is the tradeoff of getting severely injured or even losing one’s life worth it if a crash occurs?”
Let a Denver Accident Attorney Help
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