Highway safety is—and always will be—an important topic. Whether you’re a suburban mom driving her kids around, a young 20-something out cruising with friends, or an intermodal truck driver towing a heavy weight container cross-country, highway safety is just as important to all of you for different reasons. What many in the country, including those at intermodal chassis leasing companies, are curious to see these days, is how an increase in highway speed limits in some states is going to impact highway safety in the future.
Five different state legislatures voted this year to increase speed limits on some of the divided highways in their states. Ohio, Utah, Maine, Illinois, and New Hampshire are all prepared, in some way, shape, or form to increase speed limits. But, there are some in those states that are worried how these increases will impact the safety of the roads and its drivers.
It would seem to be a warranted concern. There are those that are of the belief that with increased speeds comes more frequent crashes with a greater number of injuries at higher rates of speed. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2011 speed played a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal traffic accidents. However, that number has just about held steady at 30 percent for the better part of a decade, even with an increase in speed limits on highways in that same time period.
According to a study done by the Utah Department of Transportation in 2008, there was a 20 percent drop in the number of people exceeding the posted speed limit on a stretch of I-15, with a speed limit of 75 mph. Also found during an additional study of the same stretch of road, was an 11-to-20 percent drop in speed-related accidents in 2012.
While these studies don’t prove for certain whether an increase in speed limits will lead to more accidents or keep drivers from driving at outrageous speeds, they do show what drivers’ tendencies are. And what that has shown is that most drivers will drive at a rate of speed at which they are comfortable and feel in control.
As long as most drivers, including those hauling freight on an intermodal chassis, maintain safe driving practices and remain alert while behind the wheels of their vehicles, an increase in speed limits hopefully won’t lead to more dangerous driving conditions on the country’s highways.