It is great to see progress. On the roads this is represented by faster traffic and less deaths. This type of progress is evident in America. The first American speed limits (15mph on rural roads and 12mph in the cities) were set in Connecticut, in 1901. The other states soon followed suit. By 1913 the low speed limits and bad roads meant that there were 3,100 Americans killed on the roads in spite of the small number of vehicles at the time. Fortunately the roads improved and speed limits crept up. Then radar was introduced and took its toll. This retarded the sensible increase in speed limits because having speed limits too low generated huge amounts of money from speeding tickets. The problem really set in in the 70's when they dropped speed limits thinking it would help deal with the fuel crisis at the time.
The push for reform by road safety enthusiasts and libertarians was resisted by the revenue raising cartel who made apocalyptic predictions in relation to raising speed limits. I have at hand an American report that came out in 1995 which found that RAISING AMERICAN FREEWAY SPEED LIMITS WOULD RESULT IN 6,434 EXTRA DEATHS EACH YEAR. Clearly that doesn't make sense when Science tells us that raising speed limits toward the 85th percentile results in less accidents. Kind of reminds you the bs Australian report that found that going only 10kph over current Australian limits equates to drunk driving in terms of accident risk doesn't it? Amazingly the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) predicted that these extra 6434 deaths each year would in fact occur.
Fortunately however, America has finally joined the 20th century by raising freeway speed limits that were set way back in the 70s. The first limits were raised in December 1995. The American road death rate went up temporarily- except in states where limits were raised. Those states defied the trend by going down. However not long afterward the states with limits raised also had a rise in the death rate but with the brakes on - the increase in the other states was 2.6 times as high. The forces causing the increased road deaths must have been offset by the speed limit raising improving safety.
At this stage speed limits have been raised in all but one American state (Hawaii). Many states now have speed limits that have previously only been enjoyed by European countries with ultra-low death rates.
America has enjoyed a record low in the road death rate for the past 2 years (written 1999). According to James Baxter the President of the National Motorists Association (our American counterpart which was largely responsible for the speed limit changes), "While NHTSA claims superficial government 'programs' are to be credited for the declining death rate, we knew the repeal of the NMSL and the resultant higher legal speed limits could, in fact, improve highway safety. The reasons: drivers are more attentive, use better lane discipline and tend to take speed limit signs more seriously under the new laws." He also pointed out that there is logically a shifting of enforcement priorities to more effective strategies as a result of the latter change.
It is particularly interesting to look at American speed related crashes. Authorities traditionally try to discount the fact that speeding causes such a tiny proportion of motorvehicle crashes (4.2% in Australia) by pointing out the sizeable proportion of speed related crashes (or crashes where speed is a major factor). (Actually in Australia they often conveniently don't even mention the above causation.) What Mr Baxter didn't mention was the substantial decline in speed related crashes since they raised the limits. Need I say any more?
Trusting members of the medical profession want limits lowered not raised: An example of how meddling do gooders can promote policies that get people killed.
A common sense assessment of the situation.
A balanced look at the issues
Minesota Daily editorial writer arguing for raising limits
CARNAGE predicted: The 'Advocates of Highway Safety' and their state by state break up of extra deaths and the resulting cost
The Heartland perspective.
"I can't drive 55" he writes immediately prior to limits being raised.
Heritage Foundation president predicts speedy win in Congress for motorists
Raised limits and the incursions into the speeding ticket scam panic Insurance companies: Insurance Co. rep pans through the stats in a desperate final bid to fend off reduced income.
...and then there was one
Democracy in action
First states to increase limits resist national trend
The good news for motorists.
Las Vegas basks in the comfort of sensible limits
Washington reporter assesses the 'aftermath'
In spite of the results one organisation still pushes to have highway limits lowered for 'safety'
After decades of propaganda about the 'safety benefits' of low limits the 'bad guys' have gone quiet about the speed limit issue so Mr Peters feels the need to make another comment
Deaths on Michigan Highways
Truckers push for equality
"Higher speed limits may save lives"
Montana re-instates speed limits. This resulted from a court decision that their "reasonable and prudent" driving speed requirement was incapable of definition and lobbying by the usual panic merchants.
© National Motorists Association Australia