Abels & Annes

Chicago study finds increased highway speeds claims an additional 1,250 lives a year in car accidents

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Lifting the national 55 mph speed limit ban a decade ago has cost an additional 12,500 lives, according to an article the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Chicago car accident lawyers at Abels & Annes examined the dangers of speeding last month as part of its Summer Safe Driving Series.

Fatality rates for speeders are undisputed and increase exponentially with speed. That means an accident is not twice as likely to be fatal at 50 mph than at 25 mph — federal research shows it is 15 times more likely to be fatal.

The new study from University of Illinois at Chicago School of Health analyzed speed-related traffic fatalities and injuries between 1995 and 2005, the 10-year period after the repeal of the National Maximum Speed Law.

The change in law allowed states to post their own limits on interstate roads.

Automobile deaths related to the increase, which numbered 12,500 over the decade, would shrink significantly with lower speed limits, according to the research.

The study, which was published in U.S. News & World Report, also attributed 36,582 injuries in fatal crashes to higher speed limits implemented during the 1995-2005 study period.

“Our study clearly shows that policy can directly result in more deaths as well as reducing deaths on our country’s roads,” said lead researcher Lee S. Friedman of the division of environmental and occupational health sciences in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois, Chicago.”I’m not saying that speed will cause a crash. But when you’re in a crash, speed will definitely increase your risk of being injured and increase your risk of severity of injury, as well as your risk of dying.”

Researchers found a 3.2 percent increase in deaths because of higher speed limits on all types of roads in the United States. The largest increase — 9.1 percent — was on rural interstates, followed by urban interstates at 4 percent.

“These roads were the main focus of raised speed limits,” they noted.

Some states had imposed a 65 mph limit. Others went to 70, and still others, 75. The solution, said Friedman, is to bring back the 55 mph speed limit.

“Reduced speed limits would save lives,” Friedman said. “They would also reduce gas consumption, cut emissions of air pollutants, save valuable years of productivity and reduce the societal cost of motor vehicle crashes.”


If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or killed in a Chicago car accident, the personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.