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IIHS links rise in car crash fatalities with higher speed limits

Ever since the nationwide 55 mph speed limit was abolished in 1995, 41 states including Illinois have raised the speed limit to at least 70 mph on their highways. Six of those states have done so since 2013. In addition, seven states raised the speed limit on some highways to 80 mph. However, according to a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, this change is responsible for nearly 37,000 additional deaths between 1993 and 2017.

IIHS researchers analyzed annual traffic fatality data in that 25-year period and concluded that, specifically, 36,760 deaths could have been prevented if speed limits remained what they were in 1993. In 2017 alone, about 1,900 lives could have been saved. With every 5-mph increase in the speed limit, the number of car crash fatalities went up 8.5 percent.

Though the number of such fatalities is not as high as it was in the early 1990s, it continues to rise. Every year since 2011 has seen about 5,000 more roadway deaths than the historic low achieved in that year. Other factors besides speeding include drunk driving and driving without a seat belt. Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities are also climbing.

Driving faster may save time, but it is only a matter of a few minutes. IIHS researchers therefore urge state lawmakers to consider the dangers before proposing to increase the speed limit.

The faster a driver goes, the more serious the injuries will be in the event of a car crash. Those who are injured by a speeding driver may file a personal injury lawsuit against that driver's auto insurance provider, but they might want legal representation. The lawyer may be able to hire investigators to gather proof, especially the police report and physical evidence at the crash site. The lawyer may then strive for a reasonable settlement, litigating if one cannot be achieved.

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