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Apparently Speed Doesn't Kill

GotZoom

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Brilliant! Most of us already knew this.

-----

It's another summer weekend, when millions of families pack up the minivan or SUV and hit the road. So this is also an apt moment to trumpet some good, and underreported, news: Driving on the highways is safer today than ever before.

In 2005, according to new data from the National Highway Safety Administration, the rate of injuries per mile traveled was lower than at any time since the Interstate Highway System was built 50 years ago. The fatality rate was the second lowest ever, just a tick higher than in 2004.

rando070706.jpg


As a public policy matter, this steady decline is a vindication of the repeal of the 55 miles per hour federal speed limit law in 1995. That 1974 federal speed limit was arguably the most disobeyed and despised law since Prohibition. "Double nickel," as it was often called, was first adopted to save gasoline during the Arab oil embargo, though later the justification became saving lives. But to Westerners with open spaces and low traffic density, the law became a symbol of the heavy hand of the federal nanny state. To top it off, Congress would deny states their own federal highway construction dollars if they failed to comply.

In repealing the law, the newly minted Republican majority in Congress declared that states were free to impose their own limits. Many states immediately took up this nod to federalism by raising their limits to 70 or 75 mph. Texas just raised its speed limit again on rural highways to 80.

This may seem non-controversial now, but at the time the debate was shrill and filled with predictions of doom. Ralph Nader claimed that "history will never forgive Congress for this assault on the sanctity of human life." Judith Stone, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, predicted to Katie Couric on NBC's "Today Show" that there would be "6,400 added highway fatalities a year and millions of more injuries." Federico Pena, the Clinton Administration's Secretary of Transportation, declared: "Allowing speed limits to rise above 55 simply means that more Americans will die and be injured on our highways."

We now have 10 years of evidence proving that the only "assault" was on the sanctity of the truth. The nearby table shows that the death, injury and crash rates have fallen sharply since 1995. Per mile traveled, there were about 5,000 fewer deaths and almost one million fewer injuries in 2005 than in the mid-1990s. This is all the more remarkable given that a dozen years ago Americans lacked today's distraction of driving while also talking on their cell phones.

Of the 31 states that have raised their speed limits to more than 70 mph, 29 saw a decline in the death and injury rate and only two--the Dakotas--have seen fatalities increase. Two studies, by the National Motorists Association and by the Cato Institute, have compared crash data in states that raised their speed limits with those that didn't and found no increase in deaths in the higher speed states.

Jim Baxter, president of the National Motorists Association, says that by the early 1990s "compliance with the 55 mph law was only about 5%--in other words, about 95% of drivers were exceeding the speed limit." Now motorists can coast at these faster speeds without being on the constant lookout for radar guns, speed traps and state troopers. Americans have also arrived at their destinations sooner, worth an estimated $30 billion a year in time saved, according to the Cato study.

The tragedy is that 43,000 Americans still die on the roads every year, or about 15 times the number of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq. Car accidents remain a leading cause of death among teenagers in particular. The Interstate Highway System is nonetheless one of the greatest public works programs in American history, and the two-thirds decline in road deaths per mile traveled since the mid-1950s has been a spectacular achievement. Tough drunk driving laws, better road technology, and such improving auto safety features as power steering and brakes are all proven life savers.

We are often told, by nanny-state advocates, that such public goods as safety require a loss of liberty. In the case of speed limits and traffic deaths, that just isn't so.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008621
 

dmp

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shhhhhhhhhh....you're going to upset a lot of old men who lane-camp in the name of 'safety'...you'll upset holier-than-thou folk who ONLY obey ONE law in life - the absolute speed limit; regardless of circumstances which make them going that limit 'unsafe' or 'unwise'.


:)
 
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GotZoom

GotZoom

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dmp said:
shhhhhhhhhh....you're going to upset a lot of old men who lane-camp in the name of 'safety'...you'll upset holier-than-thou folk who ONLY obey ONE law in life - the absolute speed limit; regardless of circumstances which make them going that limit 'unsafe' or 'unwise'.


:)

Yeah...I know.

I'm a rebel. What can I say.
 

theHawk

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Speed limits need to be different for different vehicles. Its utterly rediculous to post a generic speed limit to all. You can't tell me its more dangerous for me in a sports car weighing less than 3000 pounds to travel at 80 miles an hour than a 18-wheeler truck to travel at 65. IMO, big trucks and SUVs/vans should be held to a low speed limit due to high roll rates and horrid 60-0 stop distances. And sports cars should be allowed to go as fast as they want. :D
 

dmp

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theHawk said:
Speed limits need to be different for different vehicles. Its utterly rediculous to post a generic speed limit to all. You can't tell me its more dangerous for me in a sports car weighing less than 3000 pounds to travel at 80 miles an hour than a 18-wheeler truck to travel at 65. IMO, big trucks and SUVs/vans should be held to a low speed limit due to high roll rates and horrid 60-0 stop distances. And sports cars should be allowed to go as fast as they want. :D

Some SUVs stop better than some sedans. Where would you draw the line? Roll-overs? Not a vehicle issue - a driver issue...which brings me to how things SHOULD be:


Ever played Grand Turismo?

Graduated licenses.

D - Class drivers: Driving only in the day time. Only in right lane of any highway. No passing - ever. Top speed 50mph.

C - Class drivers: Driving all hours - only right lane, can pass during daylight hours, except on freeways. Top speed 75mph.

B - Class drivers: (Most drivers) Driving all hours. If caught in the LEFT lane for longer than it takes to pass a vehicle, they would be ticketed. (Sound familiar? That's MY state law, but it's never enforced :(). May travel up to 130mph in a car, 100mph in a truck.

A - Class drivers: (Me, Jon, and perhaps a few others here) Driving all hours. May use ANY lane, and the shoulder if neccessary to pass. Unlimited speed for any vehicle.

To advance from one class to the next, one must be evaluated on a racetrack for car-handling ability, AND followed secretly in an unmarked car to evaluate their decision making ability on public streets.

:)

Something like that...That'd cut traffic deaths by 50% I'd guess.
 

PsuedoGhost

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With all due respect, the drop in highway fatalities is probably more likely caused by the recent improvements in car safety technologies over the last decade. Cars today are infinitely more safe than a 1995 vehicle... Airbags, better safety belts, better crash design, the list goes on and on...

I'm a big fan of higher speed limits, but lets put due credit to where it belongs. The Engineers.
 

theHawk

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PsuedoGhost said:
With all due respect, the drop in highway fatalities is probably more likely caused by the recent improvements in car safety technologies over the last decade. Cars today are infinitely more safe than a 1995 vehicle... Airbags, better safety belts, better crash design, the list goes on and on...

I'm a big fan of higher speed limits, but lets put due credit to where it belongs. The Engineers.


i agree with that, its mostly because of seatbelt, airbags ect.
 

Eightball

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dmp said:
Some SUVs stop better than some sedans. Where would you draw the line? Roll-overs? Not a vehicle issue - a driver issue...which brings me to how things SHOULD be:

Gotta say something here: Your right in the area of driver ability having a measure of affect when it comes to roll-overs, but there's something that drivers can't change and that's where the center of gravity is on vehicles. SUV's have a higher center of gravity, and can and will roll-over easier than vehicles with lower centers of gravity in similiar driving situations. Also suspension has to be considered too: What kind of spring rates and shock stiffness does "said" SUV or sedan have. Stiffer suspensions me not allow for as much dampening when a vehicle is turning hard and stopping simultaneously. Consumer reports tests did indicate a roll-over problem with Suzuki Side Kick and the Geo Clone of the Side Kick, as well as the Jeep CJ at an earlier time.

High center of gravity in a vehicle means that when lateral G's are exerted, that you've got a greater tendency to tumble over if suspension dampening, is the same on a lower-center of gravity vehicle.

Let's face it folks.........a garbage truck ain't gonna take a corner at the same speed a 911 Porsche does at it's maximum and survive in an upright state.


Ever played Grand Turismo?

Graduated licenses.

D - Class drivers: Driving only in the day time. Only in right lane of any highway. No passing - ever. Top speed 50mph. I'd go for it. Teens are generally crazy. I was one once. I know.

C - Class drivers: Driving all hours - only right lane, can pass during daylight hours, except on freeways. Top speed 75mph. How about, no passing on the right side on freeways unless the driver in front is impeding traffic flow?

B - Class drivers: (Most drivers) Driving all hours. If caught in the LEFT lane for longer than it takes to pass a vehicle, they would be ticketed. (Sound familiar? That's MY state law, but it's never enforced :(). May travel up to 130mph in a car, 100mph in a truck.

A - Class drivers: (Me, Jon, and perhaps a few others here) Driving all hours. May use ANY lane, and the shoulder if neccessary to pass. Unlimited speed for any vehicle.

To advance from one class to the next, one must be evaluated on a racetrack for car-handling ability, AND followed secretly in an unmarked car to evaluate their decision making ability on public streets.
I'd say by age 55, everyone will finally be at the highest driving classification.:teeth:

:)

Something like that...That'd cut traffic deaths by 50% I'd guess.

Makes sense........:teeth: ?
 

Mr. P

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Speeders are dumb; I’ve scraped a bunch of you off the road in the middle of that night,
then flew your sorry ass to the ER so someone could save yer life.

Hey it’s 11: 25p on Friday night, it’s time get going, MORONS.
 

Mr.Conley

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psychoblues said:
With all due respect, the drop in highway fatalities is probably more likely caused by the recent improvements in car safety technologies over the last decade. Cars today are infinitely more safe than a 1995 vehicle... Airbags, better safety belts, better crash design, the list goes on and on...

I'm a big fan of higher speed limits, but lets put due credit to where it belongs. The Engineers.
True, but I wouldn't think that improved design would result in a lower number of crashes. I find that very surprising. Can someone explain?
 

sitarro

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Mr. P said:
Speeders are dumb; I’ve scraped a bunch of you off the road in the middle of that night,
then flew your sorry ass to the ER so someone could save yer life.

Hey it’s 11: 25p on Friday night, it’s time get going, MORONS.

The realty of nails and or the occational screw in your lane, improperly inflated tires, defective tires, tires not rated for the speed the dufuss is driving at, the drunk driver that does the least expected, etc. etc. It's one thing to be an ace driver on a clean racetrack by yourself, or sitting in front of your computer playing race games, but on the actual road that others of various skill levels are also on..... it is insane to think you can tool along at 130 miles an hour in any car.
Hey P man, what does a car look like after a deer jumps in front of it unexpectantly, I'm sure you've seen a few of those. I have had deer and elk jump in front of me numerous times, that will definitely slow anyone with a brain down.
 

sitarro

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Mr.Conley said:
True, but I wouldn't think that improved design would result in a lower number of crashes. I find that very surprising. Can someone explain?

Improved shocks, brakes, steering and probably upgraded roads( I have noticed a lot more grooved pavement over the years).
 

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