When we are first learning how to drive, motorists are trained to be mindful of the speed limits when traveling on any roadway in America. Ever since speed limits have been instituted there has been a debate about what is the appropriate speed and how best to determine that speed. This article aims to provide some insight about the factors that may contribute to the speed limit laws in your state.

How are Speed Limits Determined?

The goal in determining the correct speed limit for an area is to reflect the prevailing driving behavior of a reasonably safe driver. Unfortunately, many speed limits in America are simply dictated rather than studied. One huge factor has been the federal government. In creating federal highways the government has the authority to dictate speed limits on those highways. Many states follow suit and simply dictate the speeds on their roads with little study on their effectiveness in preventing accidents.

What Effects Do Speed Limits Have on Motorists?

It seems to be a pretty well-known secret that speed limits have very little effect on the behavior of drivers. A 22 –year study by the National Motorists Association concludes that traffic speeds are not determined by the speed limit but rather by the experience of drivers on that particular area of the road. Essentially, there is a range of speeds that can be considered “safe”. If a driver is over or under that range the potential for accidents has been shown to increase. The fallacy of the National Highway Administration is the belief that setting a limit will dictate the speed. Rather, the NMA argues that studies should be conducted to let the speed reflect the higher side of a reasonably safe travel speed already being used by drivers. According to studies, setting the limit at the 85th percentile of driver speeds is a reasonable limit.

Why is There Opposition to Higher Speed Limits?

According to the NMA studies, entire industries have benefitted from the status quo. In some states, revenue is higher as local law enforcement can write more tickets for speeders. In some states, police departments get a portion of the revenue from tickets. This affects traffic court workers as the public spends money to fight tickets. The insurance industry is able to surcharge drivers that drive within a safe range but exceed the posted speed limits.

What Else Can Decrease Vehicle Accidents and Fatality Rates?

One way that these incidents can decrease is improving the condition of the roads and improving the safety crashworthiness of a motor vehicle. Improving roads means making better road surfaces for various types of weather, improving signage, road design and construction. Making vehicles safer can mean improving the crashworthiness of a vehicle with improved engineering, improved interior design and using technology to detect the possibility of accidents.

In the meantime, it is best to obey all posted speed limits and to be aware of your speed on the road.

This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance. If you were injured in an accident please call one of our attorneys at David K. Kremin & Associates, and we will give you a free consultation. We never charge unless we collect for you. Please call 1(800) ASK-A-LAWYER or 1(800)275-2529.å