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Speed limit increases since 1993 have killed 37,000 additional people


The U.S. trend of raising speed limits has been deadly for many.  A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says higher speed limits have caused 37,000 additional traffic deaths between 1993 and 2017.

Michigan raised speed limits to 75 on some highways in 2017. 40 other states also have a 75 mile per hour speed limit. 

Some states have gone further, with speed limits of 80 in six states, and speed limits of 85 in one state (Texas).

Charles Farmer is vice president for research and statistical services for IIHS.   He says too many people think about the few minutes they're saving by speeding, but not about the risk.

"Driving 70 instead of 65 saves a driver at best 6 1/2 minutes on a 100-mile trip," says Farmer.  "I've been out there on some of those roads where it's 80 miles an hour, and I think I'd rather sit there in the right lane and be the slow poke."

Farmer says it may not be possible to lower speed limits, but states should definitely say "enough is enough," and stop raising them.

The research comes as IIHS and the Governors Highway Safety Forum plan a forum later in April to develop a speed management program, which could include recommendations for high-visibility enforcement measures and traffic engineering changes to reduce high-speed crashes.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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