Are Higher Speed Limits Worth The Risk?

Nov 18, 2011


proposal currently underway to raise freeway speed limits in Great Britain has generated a lot of argument over whether raising the maximum allowed speed would be more dangerous for motorists than it is worth. US speed limits have remained fairly stable recently but in some cases have begun to inch their way up; some businesses see this as a good thing, but the risks just may outweigh the rewards.

Increased speed limits are supported by freight companies because of the overall reduction in trip times they generate. While it is true that the time of the trip may be faster, there are some problems that make the change in schedule far less beneficial.

First, vehicles begin to lose fuel efficiency as they cross a certain speed threshold (about 60 miles per hour). After that, more energy is required to overcome wind resistance and the vehicle’s fuel efficiency dips exponentially. In addition, higher speed limits are the number one contributor to the increased fatality rate of freeway accidents. While it is true that a lower percentage of accidents happen on highways than on other roads, the higher speeds involved make them far more dangerous.

These factors combined make raising speed limits a pretty low-benefit scenario for everyone, but being safe on the roads doesn’t have to be made into law. Make sure your drivers know the appropriate speed along their routes and encourage safe driving behavior instead of shorter deadlines!

Photo courtesy of S.A. Hooper and re-used under the Creative Commons license.