Car accidents at higher speeds can lead to more severe injuries. Additionally, drivers have shorter reaction times when moving more quickly.
For these reasons, some have suggested that speed limits should be lowered, rather than raised. They say this could decrease the accident totals, and it could also keep people alive since some who were involved in slower accidents would then be less seriously injured. Does this hypotesis hold up?
The hypothesis itself is based on fact, but studies have found that lowering speed limits doesn't always have the impact that is projected. That doesn't mean the conjecture about lower speeds leading to fewer and less severe accidents is wrong, but changing the laws may not protect people.
For one thing, drivers just break the speed limit. One study found that the average reduction in speed after a drop in the limit is a mere two miles per hour. Therefore, while lowering the speed limit by five or 10 miles per hour may look good on paper, the reality is that drivers don't change their behavior all that much.
For example, back in 2014, speed limits were dropped in parts of New York from 30 to 25. This was done to protect pedestrians. However, a reporter who went out and tried to drive right at 25 miles per hour described the experience as "risking her life." Reports also indicated that pedestrians were not safer since most accidents with pedestrians already involve speeding drivers. Changing the limit doesn't mean they won't speed and won't cause accidents.
These reports claimed that the real change needed was in education and enforcement. Without those two components, just changing the numbers on a sign did not change the way people drove or how safe they were.
That being said, if a driver is speeding and driving recklessly, causing an accident that injures you or a loved one, be sure you know your legal rights. A driver who breaks the speed limit and causes an accident may be found liable due to negligence or even disregard for the safety of others.
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