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Speed Kills — So Why Raise The Speed Limit?

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In June, North Carolina legislators considered a proposal to raise the maximum state speed limit to 75 miles per hour. While the measure handily zipped through the Senate, it hit a roadblock in the House when representatives questioned the safety of the proposal.

In 2011, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated speed was a factor in 30 percent of fatal accidents and contributed to the deaths of more than 9,000 people. Raising the speed limit means motorists already inclined to speed can legally push that pedal to the metal just a little harder.

Raising or lowering speed limits is only one method for controlling roadway speed. A wholesale decision to raise the maximum speed limit must first examine factors including:

  • The infrastructure and design of roads
  • Road use and volume
  • Type of users
  • Standards of enforcement

While 16 states, mostly located in the West, have raised the speed limit to 75, the type of roads and distances traveled are dissimilar to those in North Carolina. Discussing the idea, David Harkey, director of the UNC Highway Safety Research Center noted [t]his is just not a good idea,…[w] hen you’re traveling at a faster speed, you’re more likely to be involved in a crash. And the higher speed is going to result in more likelihood of injuries occurring.

In North Carolina, raising the speed limit may not affect already slow moving traffic, but it will increase the severity of accidents that are bound to occur. In the end, the House recommended the idea of raising the speed limit be studied by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) before any further action on the measure is considered.

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