“Speed Kills.” According to a new study by researchers from Michigan State University, this 1954 traffic safety campaign slogan is even more relevant now. Since legislators passed a 2016 law that raised speed limits on several Michigan highways, accidents, serious injuries and fatalities on those roads have increased significantly. Here are the highlights of this revealing report and what it means for Michigan drivers. And, if you or a loved one is injured in a crash, our team of experienced Michigan car accident attorneys will help protect your rights and win the compensation you deserve.
Speed limits were raised as a result of Public Act 445, which raised speed limits on 614 miles of rural freeways starting in 2017. Maximum speeds increased from 70 mph to 75 mph for passenger cars and from 60 mph to 65 mph for trucks. The roads were selected based on extensive research by traffic safety experts to identify areas where accidents were less likely to occur despite higher speeds. As a result, most were rural thoroughfares with wider shoulders and fewer access points than freeways in more populated regions.
The speed limits were raised on portions of the following freeways:
In addition, speed limits increased from 60 to 65 mph on approximately 900 miles of other Michigan highways. The combined total of 1,557 miles comprises about 16 percent of total state freeway miles in Michigan.
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The study showed a 17 percent rise in overall accidents on the affected highways, despite researchers’ predictions that higher speed limits were unlikely to have a negative impact on these particular roads. Furthermore, fatal crashes increased 63 percent, from approximately 11 deaths per year to 18.
These results corroborated an earlier analysis by BridgeMichigan.com, which reviewed data from 2018, the first full year the new speed limits were in effect. That study showed the same 17 percent rise in accidents on the roads where speed limits increased compared to a 3.4 percent rise in crashes on all Michigan roads.
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The NHTSA cites speeding as a major cause of almost 30 percent of all crashes. However, traffic safety experts believe the percentage is actually higher because many accidents involving excessive speed are attributed to other causes such as drunk or distracted driving.
In addition, the pandemic spawned a rash of reckless driving behaviors, with Michigan State Police reporting more incidences of speeding, eschewing seatbelts and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, this trend has continued with no signs of subsiding.
Here are some of the ways speeding increases the likelihood of a deadly crash:
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If you or a loved one is injured in a Michigan traffic accident, we can help. Our experienced lawyers have the skills, knowledge and resources to win the compensation you and your family deserve.
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