False Crash Rate Predictions by Opponents
Opponents of increasing the speed limit are quick to jump to the conclusion that increasing the speed limit would simply lead to an increase in crash rates. While this may be true for certain types of roads such as local roads, this is untrue for major highways. It has been found that increasing the speed on major highways does not increase accident rate, but it might actually decrease accident rate. Increasing the speed limit on major highways would also come with some positive effects such as an increased flow of traffic, quicker travel times, and a higher level of concentration.
In the article “Dangers of Increasing Highway Speed Limits,” the author quoted Russ Rader from USA Today who stated, “Higher speeds mean more crashes and more severe ones.” Although it is true that crashes that occur at higher rates of speeds result in higher fatality rates, it is not true that increasing the speed limit on highways leads to higher crash rates. The author of this article provides no evidence to prove that crash rates increase from a higher speed limit. He/she only cited that the increase in speed limit increased the fatality rate. Based on the article “The paradox of driving speed: Two adverse effects on highway accident rate,” it has been proven that an increase of speed limit on highways actually leads to a lower API rate, which in turn leads to a lower crash rate. The faster two cars travel past each other, the less time they are next to each other. This is true for all types of API interactions. It is simple, the lower the amount of time two vehicles spend next to each other, the lower the crash rate.
Critics of increasing the speed limit also like to ignore the multiple advantages that would come along with increasing the speed limit on major highways. One main advantage would be increased traffic flow. In the report from MDPI titled “The Effect of Posted Speed Limit on the Dispersion of Traffic Flow Speed,” they found that an increase in speed limit is directly related to the increase of the speed of traffic flow. Their study found that an increase of posted speed limit by 20 km/h increased the speed of traffic flow by 18 km/h. The increased traffic flow would reduce if not eliminate the hassle from standstill traffic. Increased traffic flow leads to the next advantage of increasing the speed limit: quicker travel times.
It seems to be obvious that an increase in speed limit would lead to a decrease in the amount of time that is spent on the road. Long commutes have been proven to increase stress levels. In an article published by the City Clock Magazine titled “Think driving stress is ruining your life? Apparently it is,” they found that driving leads to people experiencing many indicators of stress like anxiety, high heart rate, and high blood pressure and those who drive more take more sick days and end up in the hospital more often. Each of these effects could lead to more detrimental effects if they continue. The same article also explained that “It has also been found that the longer you spend driving results in lower productivity for your employer.” Low level of productivity could lead to someone losing their job and could be detrimental to their workplace. Driving clearly takes a toll on people and decreasing the amount of time they are driving can lead to many positive effects. Spending less time on the road gives people more time to complete their work and most importantly, more time to spend with their family and friends. The higher level of efficiency, more time spent with loved ones, and lower stress levels would allow people to be happier and even more financially stable.
Increasing the speed limit would also lead drivers to concentrate more on the road. Multiple distractions would be cut out of their commute such as constantly checking the speedometer and surveying the area for police cars. If the driver does not constantly take their eyes off the road to check the speedometer, they are able to be more vigilant to the area around them, instead of having to constantly worry about the speed that they are traveling at. The same effect occurs when drivers are no longer constantly checking all around them for police. Checking for police takes an even greater toll on the concentration of the driver on the road. Drivers check behind themselves, in front of themselves, within the trees, and on the side of the road just in case they catch a glimpse of a Ford Explorer or a Dodge Charger.
Having a speed limit that is higher and more comparable to the speed at which people already drive on the highway would also make people take the speed limit more seriously. For example, the speed limit on the New Jersey Turnpike is 65 miles per hour, but everyone knows that if they go below 80 to 85 miles an hour they are likely to get ran off the road. If the speed limit was 80, maybe people would actually take it seriously. Taking the law seriously also improves the relationship between the people and law enforcement. There would be much less arguing with police officers over tickets if the speed limit actually represented the speed at which most people are actually driving.
The critics of the concept of increasing the speed limit on major highways like to believe that the only effect that would come from doing so would be an increase in accident rate. Not only is that refutation false, they also ignore all of the positive effects that would come from increasing the speed limit. Increasing the speed limit would increase the flow of traffic leading the less stand-still traffic. A higher flow of traffic would lead to quicker commute times. Spending less time on the road is important considering that longer commutes lead to stress and lower productivity. Finally increasing the speed limit would lead to less distractions for the driver, which leads to a higher level of concentration. Critics should consider these points before making the decision of whether or not to support the increase of speed limits on major highways
Dangers of Increasing Highway Speed Limits. (2015, April 02). Retrieved November 03, 2020, from https://drivingschool.net/dangers-increasing-highway-speed-limits/
Navon, D. (2002, January 30). The paradox of driving speed: Two adverse effects on highway accident rate. Retrieved September 25, 2020, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457502000118
Gao, C., Li, Q., & Yang, J. (2019). The Effect of Posted Speed Limit on the Dispersion of Traffic Flow Speed (Rep.). MDPI.
Think driving stress is ruining your life? Apparently it is. (2014, August 22). Retrieved November 03, 2020, from http://www.cityclock.org/driving-stress/