Speed Kills, Allegedly

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) released the results of a study showing that increased speed limits may have been responsible for over 33,000 deaths in the last 20 years. Charles Farmer, author of the study and VP of research and statistical services for IIHS, said in a statement.

“Although fatality rates fell during the study period, they would have been much lower if not for states’ decision to raise speed limits.”

Higher speed limits can translate to a higher number of accidents.


Fatality rates in highway traffic accidents have steadily declined over the last 20 years thanks to improvements in safety and technology, but the IIHS says that high speeds are still an issue. Since 1995, each state has been able to set their own maximum speed limits. In Texas, there are certain sections of highway were the speed limit is as high as 85 mph, making it one of the highest limits in the country. So why do higher speed limits have such a tragic effect on the number of highway deaths?

Increase in Highway Fatalities

The IIHS conducted the study by observing the speed limit increase from 1993-2013 in 41 states while also examining the deaths per billion miles traveled, and types of roads these accidents occurred. Unemployment rates, young and teen drivers and per capita alcohol consumption were all factors taken into consideration. The results showed that for every 5 mph increase there was a 4% increase in traffic accident fatalities. The fatality rate jumped to 8% for interstate and freeway accidents.

Charles Farmer also said that the 33,000 number may be understated since the study does not include the last recent 3 years. Since 2013, five states have increased their maximum speed limit to over 75 mph and others have raised from 65 to 70 mph.

Pushing the Speed Limits

The reason why states increase their maximum speed limit is because drivers tend to want travel faster than the limit, especially on highways and rural areas. We all know the joke about how nobody respects the 60-65 mph limit on Texas’ I-35. Even here in San Antonio it is common to see traffic on I-35 holding steady at 70-75 mph in-between rush hours.

Motor Trend weighed in on the issue by saying that many advocates for higher speed limits claim that most drivers exceed speed limits. When the speed limit is increased to accommodate the speed of traffic, drivers will only want to travel faster than the new limit. If the limit is set at 75 mph then drivers will want to drive at 80-85 mph, etc. That could be a contributing factor to this issue. An increase in smart phone technology leading to more distracted drivers can also be linked to the increase in traffic accidents from 2014 to 2015, which set a new record for percentage increase.


Here 4 You

With speed limits are increasing and drivers are becoming more distracted, knowing a personal injury lawyer you can trust is important. As proud members of the San Antonio community, Davis Law Firm wants to be there 4 you! Our team of legal representatives are here 24/7 offering free consultations at no risk to you. We want to bring peace of mind by fighting for what you deserve. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident we will be there for you! Call us at (210) 444-4444.