Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The problem with speed limits is that they are too low
Link to full article at Montreal Gazette
Following the 1973 oil crisis and the U.S. government's imposition of a national 55 mph (88 km/h) limit, statistical analyses indicate highway safety worsened. And when Congress finally repealed federal speed limits in November 1995, to much caterwauling from the "speed-kills" crowd, with dire predictions of 6,400 increased deaths and a million additional injuries, the actual effect was diametrically opposite. Traffic deaths dropped to a record low by 1997, including in the 33 states that had immediately raised their speed limits. Meanwhile, Americans saved about 200 million person-hours in terms of less time spent on the road, with a reported net economic benefit of higher speed limits of $2 billion to $3 billion a year. A U.S. National Research Council panel pegged the cost of the 55-mph limit at about one billion person-hours per year.
Likewise, a study by the U.S. National Motorists Association found the safest period on Montana's Interstate highways was when there were no daytime speed limits or enforceable speed laws at all. When Montana implemented a new "safety program," imposing speed limits and enforcement, the state's fatal accident rate didn't just increase, it doubled, according to NMA statistics.
Other interesting findings of the Montana study were that vehicles traveling faster than average had the lowest accident rates, and there was no positive correlation between speed enforcement and accident rates on rural highways. If anything, the highways became less safe with enforcement.
You might want to read that last paragraph again, before clicking over to the full story. Interesting and more believable statistics as far as I'm concerned.