Anyone who's ever known a five-year-old (or been one) can appreciate the tendency to push boundaries. Anyone who's ever played or worked on a team knows the human predisposition toward competition, even if the competitor is one's self. Whatever the motivation, people are habitual limit pushers. People also seem to be in a hurry, rushing to get to work, home, the store, soccer practice. People crave speed, and more and more lawmakers are merging into the fast lane.
Since 1995, 38 states have raised speed limits to 70 miles per hour (mph) or higher on some roadways. Sixteen states officially allow speed limits of 75 mph or more. In the last few years, even more states are putting such speed increases to a vote. There is some disagreement among experts, however. Will increased limits allow people to drive faster than what's technically legal, and thus allow for smoother traffic flow and fewer accidents? Will new limits give drivers reason to add 5 or 10 more miles per hour, actually increasing speeds to upwards of 85 mph? And what about our vehicles... how do they stand up to crashes that occur at 75 or 80 mph?
Here in Florida, a proposal to raise the speed limit was debated in the state legislature last year. The bill, which sought to authorize officials to raise the state’s highway speed from 70 mph to 75 mph where deemed safe was approved by both houses. In his veto letter, Governor Scott wrote, “Although the bill does not mandate higher speed limits, allowing for the possibility of faster driving on Florida's roads and highways could ultimately and unacceptably increase the risk of serious accidents for Florida citizens and visitors.” The governor also based his rejection on stories shared by law enforcement officers who believe higher travel speeds increased the severity of accidents, and led to more deaths and injuries. If the bill had been signed into law, Florida would have joined Maine as the only states east of the Mississippi River to have a speed limit over 70 mph.
Accidents that occur at high speeds are more often fatal, since high-velocity objects collide with greater force. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), states with higher speed limits generally exceed the national average of fatalities, and allowing people to drive faster only increases the time they need in order to stop to avoid an accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that speed-related crashes cost Americans $40.4 billion each year and that 9,613 lives were lost in 2013 due to speed-related accidents. Speeding was a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes in 2012 (latest data available) and 42 percent of intoxicated drivers (those with a BAC at or above 0.08 percent) involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared to 16 percent of sober drivers. Crashes at 75 or 80 mph overwhelm the safety features built into modern vehicles, which are simply not designed to handle collisions at such high speeds.
Speeding is only one of the factors that can lead to serious car accident injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, permanent disability and more. These injuries can result in loss of wages, emotional distress, pain and suffering, permanent disability, mental impairment, earning capacity impairment and costly medical bills. At Stabinski and Funt, P.A., we handle a wide range of car accident cases. For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless traffic collision victims and their families throughout Miami and South Florida.
If you are trying to put your life back together after a collision or have more questions about this topic, feel free to contact us by calling or filling out a free case evaluation form.