Motor vehicle accident fatalities go up as speed limits rise

West Virginia has not been restricted in its ability to set motor vehicle speed limits since the full repeal of the National Maximum Speed Limit by the U.S. Congress. A study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that tracked increases in speed limits and the number of traffic fatalities found an association between faster traffic and the number of people who die in wrecks.

The institute analyzed the number of fatalities per every billion miles traveled on rural highways and interstates in 41 states. Statistical adjustments were made to account for other contributors to fatal crashes, such as the number of young drivers, level of alcohol consumption and unemployment. Calculations yielded a 4 percent rise in deaths for every 5 mph that speed limits increased.

If speed limits had remained the same since 1993, the study concluded that approximately 33,000 people would never have died. The institute only looked at data collected through 2013, and many states have allowed even greater speed limit increases since then. At this point, six states allow vehicles to travel at 80 mph.

Proceeding too fast for road and weather conditions even if below the posted speed limit could be considered a form of negligent driving. A resulting collision could cause catastrophic injuries to occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash, requiring lengthy periods of expensive medical care and treatment. An attorney could be of assistance to injured victims by attempting to negotiate a settlement with the at-fault motorist's insurer. If the amount offered is insufficient, the attorney could find it advisable to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver.

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