Higher speed limits have caused more people in West Virginia and across the United States to die in car accidents according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The study says that rising speeding limits have been responsible for almost 37,000 additional traffic deaths over the past 25 years.
In 1995, the national 55 mph speed limit was abolished. Since then, 41 states have bumped up their highway speed limits to 70 mph or above. Of those states, seven allow drivers to travel at 80 mph. For the study, IIHS researchers analyzed data on fatal traffic accidents between the years of 1993 and 2017 to find out how much the increase in speed limits impacted fatality rates. They discovered that 36,760 more people were killed on U.S. highways during that period of time than would have been killed if the speed limits had remained at 55 mph. For comparison, that total is close to the number of people who are killed in traffic accidents each year across the country.
Over the last few years, there have been around 5,000 more annual U.S. traffic fatalities than there were in 2011, which was a historical low. According to Consumer Reports, there are a number of factors behind the spike in fatalities, including speeding, drunk driving and failure to use seat belts.
Speeding is considered to be a form of negligent driving, and drivers who cause car accidents by exceeding the speed limit may be held accountable in civil court. For example, with the help of an attorney, individuals who are injured in speed-related car accidents might file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver seeking compensation for damages. A successful claim may help victims obtain a settlement that covers medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and more.