Speed kills. In 2002, speeding was involved in the deaths of more than one-third of all the 42,815 Americans killed on our highways.
In the eyes of the law, speeding is defined as exceeding the posted speed limit or driving too fast for weather or road conditions. Speeding reduces your ability to react in emergency situations and can turn what otherwise might be a minor fender bender into a fatal tragedy.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that the economic impact of crashes that involved excessive speed was $40.4 billion in 2002. That represents 18 percent of all crash costs and an average cost of $144 for every man, woman and child in the United States.
In 1987, a number of states raised the highway speed limit from 55 mph to 65 mph. That increase resulted in 15-20 percent more deaths on rural interstates each year. In June 2003, 29 states raised the speed limit to 70 mph or higher on parts of their highways.
So what is being done to put the brakes on speeders? In the latest advance in speed limit enforcement, radar signals are being used to trigger cameras that photograph speeding vehicles as they pass a specified point. These photo radar devices use a low-powered Doppler radar speed sensor to detect speeding vehicles and trigger a motor-driven camera and flash unit to photograph vehicles traveling faster than a set speed. Like red light cameras, speed cameras generate photographic evidence that gives the date, time, place and vehicle speed. Currently, only four states (AZ, CA, CO, OR) have begun using speed photo radar.
Speed Limit Law Facts
• Travel speeds increased on interstate highways in states that raised their speed limits in 1995. Increased travel speeds historically have led to increased traffic fatalities.
• In the 24 states that raised their speed limits in late 1995 and in 1996, fatalities on interstate highways increased 15 percent. Deaths on other roadways where speed limits were not raised were unchanged.
• The increased fatalities and fatality rates on interstates where speed limits were raised, translates to approximately 450-500 additional deaths a year on interstate highways and freeways.
• In a public opinion poll conducted for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, 64 percent of those polled said they were concerned that higher speed limits would contribute to even more aggressive driving. Sixty-six percent were concerned that highway crashes would increase again, and 52 percent were concerned that they will feel unsafe on the highways because drivers would go “much faster,” exceeding even the posted limits.