Historical Background on Speed

Prior to 1995, the Federal Government had control of speed limits regulations on national roads. Congress gave that control to the states with the National Highway Designation Act in 1995. Previously, the “National Speed Limits” had been set at 55-65mph, but now each state can raise or lower its speed limits as state officials see fit.

The effects of this enactment continue to be scrutinized by many groups. A 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that over the decade following the act, higher speed limits on all road types contributed to a 3.2 percent increase in road fatalities, with the highest increase, 9.1 percent, occurring on rural interstates. Researchers estimated that 12,545 deaths were linked to increased speed limits across the U.S.

To Speed is Human

One national study[1] found that the top reasons Americans speed on the roadway:

  • In a hurry.
  • Inattentive to their driving.
  • Don’t take traffic laws seriously.
  • Don’t think the laws apply to them.
  • Don’t view their driving behavior as dangerous.
  • Don’t expect to get caught.

Reasons not to Speed

The cost and burden of a traffic ticket, and the points against your driver’s license merit laying off the gas pedal. In 2011, 68% of the people who reported they’d been pulled over for speeding also received a ticket or fine. And there are additional costs to consider when speeding.

A noted fuel consumption increase has been linked to higher speed limits.The U.S. Department of Energy states that for every 5 mph driven over 60 mph, the fuel consumption equates to paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas.Speed-related crashes cost the US economy over $40 billion annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For every minute “gained” in speeding to a destination, US taxpayers shell out $76,000.

Roughly 13,000 lives are lost each year to speeding related accidents in the United States. The 2011 Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents report found that two-thirds of fatal or injury-causing crashes occurred with drivers speeding on roads with a speed limit of 30 mph or less. And about half of pedestrian fatalities occur at impact speeds of 30 mph or below.

Even armed with the know-how and motivation to remedy our need to speed, car accidents have a way of catching us in a more vulnerable position. If you have any questions about a recent car accident in the New Orleans area, contact the experienced attorneys at Smiley Law.

[1] Focus on Safety: A Practical Guide to Automated Traffic Enforcement, National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running, 2007.

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Seth Smiley
Seth is an attorney licensed to practice in Louisiana and California. He is the owner and lead attorney at Smiley Law Firm. To speak with Seth fill out the form on this page.
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