Are Roadways Safer with Higher Speed Limits & Fewer Speed Traps?


September 16, 2013

Many motorists will be excited to learn that so-called “speed traps” appear to be headed the way of the dinosaur, but they might find it surprising that a growing number of traffic safety experts and law enforcement agencies support raising speed limits.  The decision to eliminate speed traps is based on a finding that lower speed limits can actually increase the risk of a collision according to an article published on the Time website.

Although many people use the term “speed trap” fairly liberally, the term specifically refers to a portion of roadway where there is a sudden dramatic drop in the speed limit that increases the likelihood that a driver will be cited for speeding.  Although there may be legitimate reasons for such a sudden reduction in the posted speed limit, such as the likely presence of pedestrians or bicyclists, there are many areas where it may be difficult for a motorist to determine the rationale for a dramatic change in the speed limit.  Unanticipated speed limit reductions in these areas lead motorists to assume the principle justification for such a change in the posted speed limit is to raise revenue in the form of traffic tickets.

While the conventional wisdom among many traffic safety experts is that lower speed limits save lives, there is a countervailing position that the relationship between speed limits and accidents is more nuanced.  Although increased speed does mean less response time, longer braking distances and more force during the impact of a collision, vehicles traveling at different speeds within the flow of traffic also pose a serious accident risk. 

This more nuanced view of the relationship between car accidents and speed limits has led a number of states to propose new approaches to establishing speed limits.  One state is currently considering increasing the maximum speed limit within the state from 70 to 80 m.p.h.    The same state is also considering having speed limits determined by input from road experts rather than local politicians who may be tempted to focus more on revenue rather than road safety. 

The theory behind this proposal to increase the speed limit is that the “85-percentile rule” should be employed.  This approach to establishing speed limits, which is designed to reduce auto accidents, involves establishing the speed limit based on the rate of speed at or under which 85 percent of traffic drives.  Similar proposals have been implemented in certain states without a corresponding increase in car accidents nor a substantial increase in the average speed of traffic.  The National Motorists Association has long advocated the position that higher reasonable speed limits make the highways less dangerous.  The rational is that minimizing speed differential between vehicles can have a significant impact on motor vehicle collision rates.

If you have been injured in a speed-related car accident, you may be entitled to compensation because all drivers have a legal duty to travel at a safe speed regardless of the posted speed limit.  Our Georgia car accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. 

No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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