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Speed Limit Increases Correlate with More Speed-Related Fatalities

January 31, 2020

A study conducted in 2019 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows a correlation between speed limit increases and higher numbers of speeding-related fatalities. Yet, states around the country keep raising their maximum speed limits. 

The IIHS study, published in April 2019, looked at data from 1993 to present day. In 1993, the majority of states in the U.S. had maximum speed limits of 65 mph, and several had maximum speed limits of 55 mph. Most states today (41) have maximum speed limits set at 70 mph or higher. The maximum speed limit is 80 mph in six states, and in one state (Texas), drivers can travel up to 85 mph. 

IIHS indicated in its study that when a state raised its maximum speed limit by 5 mph, the state saw an 8.5 percent increase in fatal vehicle accidents on interstates. Fatality rates on other roads also rose by 2.8 percent with a 5 mph maximum speed limit increase. The United States has seen 36,760 more traffic fatalities since 1993 than it would have if speed limits had remained the same, IIHS concluded.

Other studies have found that even when speed limits are raised in a state, drivers still exceed the speed limit. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a telephone survey in 2017 in which half of participants said they had driven 15 mph above the speed limit on a freeway within the last month. Slightly less than half of participants said they had driven 10 mph above the speed limit on a residential road in the last month. 

Higher speeds increase the odds of serious injuries and death in the event of a crash. An accident taking place at 65 mph is twice as likely to cause fatal injuries than an accident taking place at 50 mph. 

It is well documented that most accidents can be prevented with a little extra care and safety education.  Since 1984, Montlick & Associates has been dedicated to keeping children and families safe on the roadway.  Our commitment runs deep through our extensive, award-winning public service programs that provide people the information they need to avoid injuries.  To learn about our Don't Drink and Drive Campaign, Child Passenger Safety Programs, Booster Seat Campaign and much more, visit and click on “community service,” or simply click here. You can also learn more about one of our newest driver and passenger safety programs by visiting

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Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.