Skip to comments.Study: Higher speed limits create dangers
Posted on 11/24/2003 1:11:14 PM PST by SLB
WASHINGTON (AP) States that raised their speed limits to 70 mph or more saw a dramatic increase in the number of people killed in traffic accidents, according to a report released Monday by an auto safety group funded by insurers.
The study, compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and based on data collected by the Land Transport Safety Authority of New Zealand, determined 1,880 more people died between 1996 and 1999 in the 22 states with higher speed limits.
A separate review of six states by the institute found drivers traveling the fastest they have since long before Congress repealed the 55 mph national speed limit in November 1995. In Colorado, which has a speed limit of 75 mph, researchers observed one in four drivers going above 80 mph. In California, where the speed limit is 70 mph, one in five drivers was clocked at 80 mph.
The New Zealand government agency estimated the death rate for the 22 states that raised their speed limits on rural interstates in 1995 and 1996.
The 10 states that raised limits to 75 mph all in the Midwest and West experienced 38% more deaths per million miles driven than states with 65-mph limits, or approximately 780 more deaths.
The 12 states that raised their limits to 70 mph including California, Florida, North Carolina and Missouri saw a 35% increase, or 1,100 additional deaths.
Geographical differences in states may have contributed to the numbers. For example, the report said, drivers may go faster in Western states where cities are farther apart. The report didn't examine the effects of other trends, such as the increasing number of sport utility vehicles on the road then.
The Insurance Institute said there is no doubt, however, that when speed limits increase so do deaths. When the national speed limit of 55 mph was adopted 1974, fatality rates dropped, the Insurance Institute's chief scientist Allan Williams said.
The Insurance Institute's separate study of speeds in Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Mexico, Colorado and California also found that when rates are raised on rural interstates, speeding increased on urban interstates.
Average travel speeds on urban interstates in Atlanta, Boston and Washington were the same as or higher than on rural interstates near those cities, even though the speed limits on those urban interstates were 55 mph. In Atlanta, 78% of drivers on one urban interstate exceeded 70 mph, the report found.
Where m is the inertial mass of the velocity, and T is the time from the initial state to the final state; the expression on the right of the equation being the limit as T goes to zero.
I think you are thinking about Kinetic Energy, which is a bit different. particle, vo is its initial velocity, v is its final That formula is probably what you meant, and that is given as:
So, yes, the faster you go, the harder you hit. Having a heavy car means that you hit harder; although the heavy car can absorb the impact by deformation (hopefully in a manner that protects the occupants).
All objective studies have concluded that neither speed limits nor actual speeds at the levels talked about here have anything to do with changes in highway death rates. Modern cars can be driven quite safely on modern highways at speeds of 80 or 85 mph. The only variable conclusively linked to the highway death rate is miles traveled. When we drive more miles, there are more highway fatalities. DUH!
Obviously, there are bad things drivers do that increase the risk of injury or death for themselves and others -- driving impaired (by alchohol, drugs and cell phones), driving at speeds significantly above or below the rate of traffic flow on that road at that time, driving on worn or under-inflated tires, weaving in and out of traffic at high speed, driving at speeds unsafe for road conditions, just to cite a few examples.
However, the lazy-assed state troopers who sit on the side of the road on clear sunny days (God forbid they should spoil the crease on those trousers by doing it in the rain) blasting away with their radar guns and lasers are doing precisely nothing about any of this. They are just making the insurance companies happy, by giving them an excuse to raise rates, and keeping the state coffers full. Traffic safety is their justification, not their concern.
But you can bet this "study" to be quoted eary and often by the anti-destination league.
They're bitter that they don't have America's Cup anymore.
It's the other 22% getting in our way that causes the accidents. If you don't do at least 75 mph on I85 through Atlanta, you're going to get run over. That's one of the things I love about this town.
Yea, right. Show me where any major highway around atlanta gets over 15 mph during rush hour.
Of course, that may have nothing to do with speed limits, and everything to do with an influx of Californians. Same with the other western states.
Exactly when is the traffic light enough that you can actually exceed the feed limit? Everytime I've been thru Et-Lanta in the past five years you're lucky to be moving at all. I'll do anything I can to avoid th' place, especially when I'm driving the motorhome.
These are the people who really burn me up. You know, the guys who have to go (at least) 20 mph over the speed limit and continually weave in and out of traffic, cutting people off without using a turn signal so that they don't have to suffer the annoyance of driving at reasonable speeds. Either that or they ride right up on your ass at said 20 mph+ above the speed limit speed trying to force you over a lane. Never mind that there are other cars immediately in front of you, so you couldn't go any faster even if you wanted to.