Speed Limit Increase Will Likely Not Lead to More Accidents

The speed limit will be changed for the second time in less than a year on Texas 130/ 45-E, raising it from 70 mph to 80 mph. Many people tend to assume that greater speeds mean that there will be more accidents on the road. But if you ask any personal injury lawyer in Austin, they will likely to tell you that faster speeds do not automatically mean there will be more accidents. According to some studies, it does mean that when accidents occur at higher speeds they may be more severe, but not that there will in fact be more accidents.

As it turns out, average speeds tend to not be affected greatly by posted speed limits. Studies have shown that when speed limits have increased, drivers tend to accommodate that but do not drive faster than the increased speed. When speed limits are reduced beyond 85 percentile of the average speed, drivers tend to ignore the reduction – but slightly more accidents tend to occur because of drivers who are seeking to accommodate the speed limit. In these cases, however, as any personal injury lawyer in Austin will tell you, the fault will not legally belong to the driver following the speed limit, but the driver who is exceeding it.

Many studies suggest that speed limits do not have a direct effect on fatalities. Robert Yowell is a political scientist at Stephen F Austin State University who has extensively studied the impact of speed limits on traffic fatalities. “Automobile safety features and enforcement emerge as important factors in increasing highway safety,” he contends. “Speed limits are far less important.”

In Indiana, researchers found that raising the speed limit not only did not increase the number of deaths in car accidents, but also had no effect on the number of severe injuries. Researcher Fred Mannering said, “Everybody expects that when you increase the speed limit injuries are going to increase, but that hasn’t happened.” Mathematical probability models used in the study showed that risk for injuries was not associated with increased speed limits.

Other factors that a personal injury lawyer in Austin may see on a regular basis as the cause of traffic fatalities include people who get into accidents due to diminished capacity because they are intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, driving faster than the posted speed limit, and failure to properly utilize seatbelts. In other words, the judgment and behavior of drivers and not using safety features available in vehicles cause fatalities and injuries, not higher speed limits.

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