Vehicle safety has improved greatly over the years. Things like airbags, seatbelts and improved structural design keep you and everyone else on the road safer than ever before. Unfortunately, there is something that is counteracting these new safety features — higher speed limits. New speed limits are making car accidents even more dangerous.
Even cars that boast the best safety features and ratings simply cannot stand up to higher and higher speed limits. In fact, even as cars have gotten safer, rising speed limits have directly contributed to 37,000 deaths over the last 25 years. So, why are speed limits still going up?
All in the name of traffic flow
Improving traffic flow is one of the reasons that Texas state officials choose to raise maximum speed limits. One aspect of traffic flow that officials seek to improve is the variance in speeds between vehicles. Since some drivers tend to always go faster than the posted limit, the thought process is that raising those limits will get everyone traveling at the same speed.
This is rarely what actually happens. Instead, when there are new speed limits posted, the drivers who were already speeding simply go even faster. Even just slightly higher speeds are enough to cause serious injury, so higher and higher speed limits are bad news.
Small differences, big injuries
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and Humanetics, performed a study looking at the differences in vehicle speed. It conducted three separate test crashes at different speeds, starting at 40 mph. In the 40-mph crash, there was very little crash intrusion in the driver’s space.
The same was not true for the same crash replicated at 50 mph, which showed a lot of intrusion in the driver’s side door, foot area and dashboard. In both the 50 and 56 mph crashes, the crash test dummy’s head actually went through the airbag after it deployed and struck the steering wheel. Researchers concluded that this could cause severe brain injuries and facial fractures.
Raising speed limits is not a solution
The IIHS concluded that states should not be raising speed limits to manipulate traffic flow and volume. Instead, officials should focus on correctly setting and enforcing speed limits. Sadly, it does not appear as if this is a priority.
Car accidents are no laughing matter. The physical, emotional and financial damages can haunt you for a lifetime, making everything from paying your bills to simply getting around far more difficult than it should be. You do not have to suffer through this without help, though. A successfully navigated personal injury claim is often an effective way to recover much-needed compensation for your injuries.