Will Increase to 85 MPH Bring More Harm Than Good?

by hshipp on December 3, 2012

southbound I-15 – speed limit 80 mph
(Guest post regarding speed limits in Houston) The question of increasing the speed limit to 85 MPH is on the table. It is clear that modern technology has allowed automobile manufacturers to build much safer and faster vehicles within the past two decades, but is the notion of increasing the speed limit based on vehicle capacity may not be the best idea? There is a small minority who feel as though there should be no speed limits on major highways, just as is on the Autobahn in Europe, but this may not be a model that can be successfully duplicated in the United States because of intensity of traffic going in so many different directions. Increasing speed limits also increases the traffic flow and all drivers are not created equally as such are not necessarily adept at controlling their vehicles at high rates of speed. The concept behind defensive driving has always been that speed kills and the risk of danger increases incrementally depending upon density of traffic, weather conditions and time of day.

Feeding the Need 

Our professionals at houston-accidentattorney.com said it best: With the onset of motorized vehicles, came the onset of accidents, some of which are deadly. When vehicles were first introduced to mainstream society, most of the roads were dirt or gravel. Cars were not capable of moving at a high speed and traffic was largely unregulated prior to what we now know to be the U.S. highway system. Western society began a transition period after World War II and the family car was the catalyst for progress and other big things that were to come as a direct result of the necessity that was made apparent as they became more and more financially accessible to everyone. As highways were modernized and the interstate highway system was built it inevitably made it obvious that some regulations were necessary to ensure safety and make it possible for traffic to flow fluidly.

How Fast is Too Fast

Initial speed limits were set at 55-65 miles per hour, depending upon the width and path of the highway. Roadways had been paved along the old traditional trails before they were updated to the elaborate byways that are now flawlessly choreographed by engineers. As the first roads were traveled via horse and buggy, when cars came onto the scene, only then was it necessary to modify the primitive trails. Local governments determined speed limits within their jurisdictions. Speed limits have long been problematic because the decision-making process is subjective and can lead to inconsistency which is why something tragic usually has to occur before changes are made to increase traffic signage or lights are added. The interstate highway system was opened with 70 MPH speed limits based on the fact that they were purposely engineered for expeditious military deployment. The original blueprints for the highway system had minimal curvature and those curves that were necessary could be safely negotiated at 70 MPH. This standard has held for fifty years and even at that consistent limit the US has had more than it’s fair share of reported traffic problems. The bad news is that in most cases, the accidents are not due to the architecture of the road, but rather user error.

The Need for Speed

Though there are plenty of documented places where high-speeds are not only allowed, here in the states increasing the speed limit could be a dangerous proposition. First of all, heavy traffic is highly problematic as it creates it’s own challenges added to the fact that most drivers rarely maintain a safe distance from the vehicles in front of them. Additionally, commercial and industrial over-size cargo vehicles dominate the highways, and motorcycles are not to be left out which is exactly why a speed increase must be carefully considered. Transportation companies would like to see the limit raised simply to reduce speeding tickets and allow better delivery times. But accidents involving tractor-trailers occurring at high speeds often result in multiple fatalities. As no vehicle can be included should the speed limit be increased, this is yet another thing to consider.

Increasing speed limits on open roads sounds like a good idea to many, but safety, or the lack thereof, is an implication that has to be high on the priority list because it presents a significant risk. Though it can be said that a majority of drivers try to adhere to the speed limit, but there are too many to count who make no real effort to do so who will not. There is a point where obeying traffic laws should be common sense, or at the very least, people feel strongly enough about their vehicles and the passengers within that they will adhere to them for pride’s sake. Who knows, increasing the speed limit to 85 MPH may allow for a better commuting experience since “keeping up with the flow of traffic” will involve traveling at a rate of speed that people generally tend to travel anyway.

Advocating for other concerned parents, Heather Shipp, mother of 3, two of which are new drivers, is a contributing writer for houston-accidentattorney.com, a Houston accident law firm. They know from first hand experience that finding the truth and knowing who is at fault when an accident happens isn’t all cut and dry. They pride themselves on their ability to determine the attorney that is best suited to you to increase the likelihood that you will recover every penny you deserve.

Photo Credit: CountyLemonade

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