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AAA Study Says Raising Speed Limits Causes More Accidents

A 35 mph speed limit sign on a winding New Hampshire road.

A recent nationwide study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has shed light on the impact of changing speed limits on motor vehicle accidents. The study revealed that there is an alarming increase in car accidents when speed limits are raised on roads and highways.

"The movement in statehouses to raise speed limits is happening across the country in at least eight states this year," said Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations for AAA. "But the benefits are overrated, and the risks are understated. Increasing speed limits does not always yield the positive results envisioned by traffic planners."

Raising speed limits results in more car accidents

The study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety thoroughly examined the impact of speed limit changes on car accidents. The study took a close look at 12 highways across the country, half of which raised their speed limits while the other half lowered them. The findings were significant and shed light on the consequences of altering speed limits:

  • Increased Accidents: Two of the highways that raised their speed limits experienced a notable rise in car accidents. This highlights the potential dangers of higher speed limits and the need for caution when implementing such changes.
  • Safer Roads: On the other hand, the highways with lower speed limits witnessed fewer car accidents and fatalities. Lower speed limits appeared to contribute to safer road conditions, emphasizing the importance of considering road safety as a top priority.
  • Comparable Travel Times: Interestingly, the study revealed that travel times for all 12 highways remained essentially unchanged. Despite the variations in speed limits, the differences in travel times were minimal. This finding challenges the notion that higher speed limits significantly affect travel efficiency.

"It is critical to consider the safety implications when local transportation authorities contemplate making changes to posted speed limits," said Diana Gugliotta, Director of Public Affairs at AAA Northeast.

Speed-related accidents in New Hampshire

Speeding continues to be a significant factor in numerous car accidents throughout New Hampshire. According to the latest car accident statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a staggering 33 percent of the state's car accident fatalities in 2021 were attributed to speeding drivers.

The impact of speeding on road safety becomes even more evident when examining the data from the past decade. Over the span of 10 years, an average of 52 car accident fatalities each year in New Hampshire were directly linked to speeding, as reported in the annual NHTSA car accident data from 2012 to 2021.

What makes speeding so dangerous?

  • Increased Impact Force: When vehicles collide at higher speeds, the force of the impact is significantly greater, leading to more severe injuries and a higher likelihood of fatalities. The potential for devastating consequences escalates as speeds increase.
  • Reduced Reaction Time: Speeding drivers have limited time to react to sudden changes in traffic or road conditions, making it challenging to slow down or avoid collisions with other drivers. This reduced reaction time can lead to a higher frequency of accidents.
  • Linked to Dangerous Behaviors: Speeding is often intertwined with other risky driving practices, such as drunk driving and texting while driving. These dangerous combinations elevate the overall risk of accidents, jeopardizing everyone on the road.

Crash victims should know their legal options

When a negligent driver causes a devastating accident resulting in severe injuries or even fatalities, seeking justice and accountability becomes crucial for the victims and their families. However, navigating the legal process can be complex.

At Burns, Bryant, Cox, Rockefeller & Durkin, P.A., our experienced car accident lawyers are dedicated to advocating for the rights of accident victims in New Hampshire. We understand the tactics insurance companies use to minimize compensation and are committed to holding negligent drivers accountable. If you or your loved ones have been injured in an accident, don't hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation. We have offices in Dover and Portsmouth, NH.

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