Study: Speed limit boost could mean more Portland traffic deaths

Portland auto accident attorneyFewer people would die if states stopped raising highway speed limits, according to Consumer Reports.

Oregon legislators are considering a bill that would let transportation officials in Portland, instead of the Oregon Department of Transportation, set speed limits for the city.

Nearly 37,000 more people died on highways in the past quarter century after speed limits rose, than would have been the case had the 55 mph limit been maintained nationwide.

The Consumer Reports story cited a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an insurance-industry funded group.

The study examined annual traffic deaths from 1993-2017. The study accounted for such factors as the percentage of young drivers on the road, seat belt use and unemployment.

Among findings in the study was that an additional 36,760 people were killed on highways in that 25-year period than would have been expected if speed limits had stayed at 55 mph nationwide.

States increase speed limits

The 55-mph speed limit ceased being the nationwide standard in 1995. Since then, 41 states have increased highway speed limits to least 70 mph and seven states have upped the limit to 80 mph.

Speed remains a significant reason for increased highway traffic deaths, despite vehicle safety advances, like automatic emergency braking.

Road deaths are lower overall than in 1993, which is two years before the federal government abolished the nationwide 55 mph speed limit. The study concluded, however, that highway fatalities would have been lower over the past 25 years had speed limits stayed the same.

Supporters say permission to drive faster saves time. Opponents say time gained by higher speeds is nullified by additional highway deaths.

In Oregon, House Bill 2702 would authorize the city of Portland to designate speed on highways over which the city has jurisdiction. The bill is in the Joint Committee on Transportation.

Oregon’s state transportation department said it is not taking a position on the legislation, but it is comfortable with the proposal, according to oregonlive.com.

Increasing highway speed limits continues to be the plan in other states, as well, according to online trucking resource CDL Life News:

  • Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill to eliminate the lower speed limit for trucks of over 26,000 pounds. The bill would let trucks go 70 mph, the current peak allowed for cars, instead of the current 65 mph.
  • Minnesota has increased speed limits from 55 mph to 60 mph on over 5,000 miles of state highways.
  • In Iowa the state legislature is considering a bill to increase interstate speed limits to 75 mph from 70 mph.
  • California legislators are considering a bill that would increase the speed limit for trucks in rural areas to 65 mph. Currently, passenger vehicles are permitted a speed limit of 65 mph or 70 mph on roads where the speed limit for trucks is 55 mph.
  • In Missouri, the speed limit would increase to 75 mph from 70 mph on rural interstates and freeways under a bill that legislators are considering.
  • North Dakota lawmakers are discussing a proposal to increase speed limits to 80 mph or 75 mph on some highways compared to the current 75 mph and 70 mph.
  • Oklahoma has increased the speed limit on the Oklahoma Turnpike to 80 mph from 75 mph.

Contact Zbinden & Curtis Attorneys At Law today for help with cases where an accident may have been caused by speeding, or any other type of car accidents, truck accident or personal injury cases.

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