IIHS Study Proves Faster Speeds Equal More Deaths

October 20, 2017

Motorists everywhere would do well to heed the sage advice of the late, great Mahatma Gandhi – “There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”

Even the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Highway Loss Data Institute has found through its research and studies that increasing speed limits over the last two decades has resulted in 33,000 deaths in the U.S.

“Although fatality rates fell during the study period, they would have been much lower if not for states’ decisions to raise speed limits,” says Charles Farmer, IIHS vice president for research and statistical services.

What Have We Learned About Traveling Faster on Roads?

IIHS Study Proves Faster Speeds Equal More Deaths | Beaverton Car Accident Attorney

IIHS Study Proves Faster Speeds Equal More Deaths | Beaverton Car Accident Attorney

We know that speed limits are regulated by each state and that they have been on the rise nation-wide since about 1995. During most of the 70s and 80s, states refrained from passing legislation to increase speed limits, because Congress would have levied fines for such laws. Congressed passed a law in 1973 that required all states adopt a 55 m.p.h. maximum speed limit, and in return states adopting the federal mandate received highway funds. The measure was actually aimed at reducing fuel consumption, but as a result we actually had fewer fatalities.

Here’s a brief look at what raised our nation’s speed limits:

  • In 1987, Congress lifted the National Maximum Speed Limit restrictions to some degree, but not completely.
  • Congressed then allowed states to raise speed limits on rural highways to as much as 65 m.p.h.
  • Supporters of increasing the speed limits made the argument that Congress was really just bringing the law in line with reality, because most drivers were already speeding faster than posted limits.
  • Critics of the increase in speed limits note that once raised, drivers will go even faster than that new posted speed limit.
  • IIHS researchers found that immediately following the total repeal of the National Maximum Speed Limit on January 31, 2008, posted speeds limits all across the country went up.
  • Fatalities also went up as a result of raising the speed limits.
  • Six states currently have speed limits of 80 m.p.h., and Texas even allows drivers to legally drive 85 m.p.h. on certain roads.

The takeaway is obviously the increase of speed limits have been followed by more fatalities. Lawmakers would do well to remember this one facet of the whole “speed increase” debate the next time they raise speed limits. For their part, drivers should drive at a speed that they feel safe at traveling.

Contact a Beaverton Car Accident Attorney at the Weimar Law Offices

Have you been injured by a negligent driver speeding over the posted speed limit? If so, turn to Beaverton Car Accident Attorney Linda Weimar, who is aggressive at pursuing her client’s rights to compensation for their injuries and losses. Since 1997, Attorney Linda Weimar has provided the highest standard of legal services to injured people, and to holding negligent people accountable for their careless actions.

Call Linda Weimer to set up a free, initial consultation to see how she can be of help in your legal matters, at (503) 640-5000 or email us using the Contact form on this page.

From our offices in Beaverton, Attorney Linda Weimar represents people with various types of personal injury claims throughout Washington County, including in West Side and Hillsboro.


1“Speed limit increases cause 33,000 deaths in 20 years” published in IIHS articles, April 2016.

Categories: Blog, Car Accidents, Fatal Auto Accidents, Personal Injury