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Speed limits and fatal accidents

For many years, New York's maximum speed limit was set at 55 mph due to federal regulations. Every state in the nation also had to adopt that lower speed limit to get certain federal funds. This restriction was gradually eased over time and repealed completely in 1995. Since then, states have been able to adopt their own max speed limits, and most have raised them considerably. This increase in speed limits has been linked to a higher incidence of traffic accident fatalities, according to a new study.

The original concern of the federal speed limit law was fuel consumption. However, the lowered speed limits also had a dramatic effect on vehicle accident deaths. Since the law's repeal, states have raised speed limits to as high as 85 mph on some highways. Proponents of speed limit increases argue that raising the speed limit simply equalizes the law with the speed of most drivers anyway. The data indicates, however, that raising speed limits only encourages drivers to go even faster than before.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 33,000 fatalities have been linked with increased speed limits since the 1995 repeal. This number was calculated by examining deaths per billion miles traveled and controlling for factors such as young drivers, unemployment and drunk driving. The report indicated that each 5 mph increase in the max speed limit resulted in a 4 percent uptick in vehicle accident fatalities.

There is little doubt that higher speeds can result in serious motor vehicle accidents. It is important to consider compensation for an accident if another driver was at fault. A personal injury lawsuit against the reckless driver and his or her insurance company is the primary means of gaining this compensation. Damages can be awarded to cover medical expenses, lost income during recovery, pain and suffering and sometimes other factors. An attorney may be able to help a client understand the damages he or she could receive.

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