Kline Legal Group P.L.C.

Speed and car crash risk, study shows strong link

Drivers in Michigan may be surprised to learn that higher speed limits set by states are directly correlated with increased traffic fatalities. A study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety quantifies the relationship by showing a 4 percent increase in deaths attributed to car accidents for every 5 mph increase in the speed limit. The larger number of fatalities suggests similar increases in catastrophic injuries and minor injuries resulting from accidents.

According to the status report, speeds were locked at 55 mph by federal policy for the larger part of two decades. In 1987, the energy concerns that prompted the federal legislation had passed, and states once again had freedom to raise the speed limits to an extent without losing highway funds. After controlling for confounding variables, such as the drunk driver and unemployment changes, the study revealed 33,000 deaths over a 20-year period directly attributable to speed increases.

Most Ann Arbor drivers are aware that a speed limit of 65 mph will result in many drivers going 70, 75 or 80 mph. The same happens to be true if a speed limit is set at 85 mph, as it is on certain highways in Texas. Drivers will exceed the posted limit, which turns out to be a major factor in the increase of fatalities in car accidents.

Despite its link to car crash fatalities, speed is still only one of many factors that increases risk on the highway. Drivers must also beware of texting and driving and other reckless driver behaviors. Victims of a negligent driver may be able to gain compensation even without a police finding of the other driver's negligence. An experienced attorney may be able to help gather evidence of negligence through an investigation that helps the victims recover their medical expenses, lost wages and other financial losses.

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