Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd.
Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd.

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IIHS study: speed limit increase has led to more fatal crashes

The nationwide 55-mph speed limit was abolished back in 1995; since then, 41 states, including Nevada, have raised the speed limit on their highways to at least 70 mph. Seven states have adopted an 80-mph speed limit on some highways. Six have raised the speed limit since 2013. At the same time, the number of traffic fatalities, though not as high as it was in the early 1990s, has been climbing ever since the low it saw in 2011.

A study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has linked the two trends. Researchers studied traffic fatality data from 1993 to 2017 and concluded that 36,760 deaths could have been prevented in that period if speed limits had not risen. Around 1,900 lives could have been saved in 2017 alone, the study says. For every 5-mph increase, the number of roadway fatalities went up 8.5 percent.

Speed is not the only major factor in the high annual car crash fatality rates. Alcohol intoxication and seat belt neglect are other important factors. Numbers may be higher were it not for vehicle safety technologies like automatic emergency braking.

The IIHS study calls for state lawmakers to consider the risks before proposing to raise speed limits. Whatever time drivers save by speeding is negligible: a matter of a few minutes, according to the study’s lead author.

In the event that a speeding driver does not kill anyone, victims may nonetheless be left with serious injuries. They may file a personal injury claim within two years of the car accident to be reimbursed for losses like medical bills, lost income and vehicle damage. Negotiating for a settlement might be hard without legal counsel since auto insurance companies have their own legal team to represent them. Victims may consider a case evaluation to learn the validity of their claim.

John P. Aldrich
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