Safety Trumps Speed as Governor Plans to Veto Speed Limit Increase

Life in 2014 is often marked by a need to do more and to do it faster. This certainly holds true on our roadways, where speeding often seems to be the norm rather than the exception. Many drivers treat a posted limit as a bare minimum rather than a ceiling. At the same time, there is an increased pressure on lawmakers to raise speed limits, pressure driven by our modern day intolerance for anything that can be considered lost or wasted time. Both are of grave concern to our Panama City personal injury attorney because they risk putting convenience over safety.

Governor Scott Announces Planned Veto

In a rare exception to this need-for-speed mentality, Florida Governor Rick Scott recently announced that he will veto legislation that would have raised the speed limits on certain interstate roadways to 75 miles per hour. Reporting on the announcement, WJHG observed that the move follows the recent death of a state trooper on I-175.

While the speed limit bill has not yet reached his desk, and he usually doesn't speak much about possible vetoes, Gov. Scott announced the planned rejection after a reporter asked about his position. The governor noted that law enforcement officials had been asking him to use his veto power for the sake of safety and said he believes the veto will prevent injuries.

IIHS: Speeding and Increased Speed Limits Result in More Crashes, More Severe Crashes

There has been extensive debate over the effect of speed limits on safety. A 2005 presentation by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ("IIHS") reviewed a number of studies on the impact of speeds and speed limits on crashes. After reviewing numerous studies, the program concludes:

"The overwhelming majority of evidence suggests that reductions in speed limits reduce vehicle speeds and crashes; increases in speed limits increase speed, as well as crashes."

Although studies also found an increased accident rate at low speeds, this may be due to dangers in congested traffic and the need to slow for certain traffic maneuvers. Further, the IIHS stated that a correlation between higher speeds and greater accident severity is an unequivocal matter of physics, making high-speed accidents of greater consequence than low-speed collisions.

Placing Safety First

As a general matter, the Department of Transportation describes its role in the setting of speed limits as providing guidance that allows state and local authorities to identify a point that maximizes efficiency while eliminating the unnecessary danger caused by unsafe speeds. The Department notes that speed limits are one part of an overall strategy for preventing speed-related crashes that includes: researching the who, where, when, and why of speeding drivers; educating the public on the risks of speeding; using targeted enforcement efforts aimed at the times and locations where speeding causes the greatest dangers; and using other techniques, including the use of new technologies, to manage speeds.

In the end, speeding can be counterproductive; travelling a bit slower may get you to your destination a few minutes later, but an accident can derail your plans for the day, or in the case of a serious injury, for a lifetime. If someone else's decision to place speed above safety left you or a loved one injured, please call. As an injury lawyer for Panama City and neighboring communities, Attorney Pittman can help you recover money damages from those at fault.

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