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Study links higher speed limits to increase in driver deaths

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Ruckersville, VA — Speed limit increases resulted in 36,730 driver fatalities from 1993 to 2017, a recent study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows.

After analyzing speed limit and traffic fatality data from each state, Charles Farmer, IIHS vice president for research and statistical services, determined that raising the maximum speed limit by 5 mph accompanied an 8% increase in fatality rates on interstates and freeways, and a 3% increase on other roads.

Six states have 80 mph maximum speed limits, the researcher found, and some roads in Texas permit travel at 85 mph.

“About 10,000 people a year die in speed-related crashes,” IIHS President David Harkey said in an April 4 press release. “We can reduce this toll through effective, high-visibility enforcement and traffic engineering measures. Reasonable speed limits also have a crucial role to play, as our new study demonstrates.”

As of December 2017, the maximum speed limit was 70 mph or higher in 41 states. In January 1993, the maximum speed limit was 55 mph for eight states and the District of Columbia, and 65 mph for the rest of the nation.

“Driving 70 instead of 65 saves a driver at best six-and-a-half minutes on a 100-mile trip,” Farmer said in the release. “Before raising speed limits, state lawmakers should consider whether that potential time savings is worth the additional risk to lives.”

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