Study shows higher speed limits lead to increased deaths

Posted on May 3, 2019

Cars that are moving at a faster speed can make a larger impact during an accident, which can lead to fatalities. New research shows speed limits that enable this driving behavior increase motorists’ risk of traffic deaths.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that for every 5 mph increase in a highway’s speed limit, traffic fatalities rose 8.5%. While traffic deaths are lower overall over the past 25 years, the study concluded that they are still higher than they would have been if speed limits hadn’t risen.

The study examined annual traffic fatality data from 1993 to 2017, controlling for factors such as the percentage of young drivers, seat belt use and unemployment. Overall, IIHS found that nearly 37,000 additional people have died in traffic accidents since 1993 due to rising speed limits – or roughly equivalent to the total number of people killed in all car crashes in the U.S. over the past few years.

How do Utah’s speed limits compare?

Utah is one of eight states where some or all interstates have an 80 mph speed limit. In Texas, there are some spots where the speed limit is as high as 85 mph.

Utah is home to some speedy drivers who push past the state’s high speed limits. While traffic fatalities are down overall in Utah, 67 of the 264 traffic fatalities in 2018 involved excessive speeding.

Drivers should always follow the posted speed limit ­­– getting to a destination alive is more important than getting there a couple minutes faster.