Contrary to recently published news reports, higher speed limits continue to pose a threat to road safety, AAA Michigan reported.
According to a 1998 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), actual road deaths in 32 states with higher speed limits were up 10.4 percent from 1995 to 1996, and interstate deaths were up 8.2 percent.
Better roads and safer cars may reduce fatality rates in some cases, but AAA Michigan said that should not be a license to drive fast.
"To leave the driving public with the impression that speed is not a major contributing factor in the number of fatalities on our roads is inaccurate and irresponsible," said Larry Givens, vice president of corporate relations for AAA Michigan. "As a matter of fact, nearly a third of all crashes nationwide are speed-related, second only to alcohol."
According to Givens, high-speed driving increases the likelihood of motor vehicle crashes because increased speed leaves the driver less time to react to changing road and traffic conditions.
At higher speeds, the impact of collisions is more severe. Actually, the chances of death or serious injury double every 10 miles per hour over 50 a vehicle travels.
States that were quick to remove speed restrictions are now re-imposing them. In Montana, for example, speed limits were eliminated, but re-imposed after fatalities increased 33 percent.