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Higher speed limits could make roadways less safe

Motorists in Ohio and across the United States are driving faster legally, and it is leading to an increased number of traffic deaths. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that speed limit hikes between 1993 and 2013 led to an additional 33,000 road fatalities.

According to the IIHS, in 2013 alone, the increased speed limits caused 1,900 more traffic deaths. This number approximately equals the number of lives saved in the same year by front driver and passenger airbags. The organization said that overall deaths did fall during the period studied, but they did so far less than would have been expected given improvements in technology for auto safety.

Each state sets a maximum speed limit within its borders. Since 1995, those limits have largely been on the rise due to the repeal of federal limitations that had mandated 55 mph as the maximum highway speed limit for states to receive federal highway funding. The National Maximum Speed Limit was first increased to 65 mph on rural highways in 1987 before its repeal nearly a decade later.

Proponents of speed limit increases note that the majority of drivers exceed the posted speed limit, and higher limits are a better reflection of roadway reality. Researchers found, however, that drivers continued to accelerate over the higher speed limits as well, going faster than before. In six states, 80 mph is the limit while in Texas, some roads have a speed limit of 85 mph.

Vehicle accidents, especially at fast-paced highway speeds, can result in severe injuries to occupants of other vehicles. An attorney representing an injured victim can often assist in seeking compensation for medical bills and other losses through negotiating with the at-fault driver's insurance company.

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