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Higher speed limits linked to rising road fatalities

Colorado is one of 41 states that have increased speed limits significantly since the federal government abolished the nationwide 55 mph top speed in 1995, and motorists there can drive at speeds of up to 75 mph on some stretches of road. However, allowing vehicles to travel this fast claims thousands of lives each year according to a recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study. Researchers from the nonprofit croup analyzed accident fatality data gathered between 1993 and 2014, and they concluded that higher speed limits led to an additional 36,760 deaths.

The IIHS study suggests the speed-related death toll would have been even higher if automobile manufacturers had not developed sophisticated systems designed to prevent collisions of mitigate their effects. Motor vehicle accident deaths have surged in recent years despite these improvements. Excessive speed has also been linked to a worrying rise in pedestrian and cyclist deaths.

Road safety advocacy groups like the IIHS have had little success convincing lawmakers to reduce speed limits. This is because most drivers speed at one time or another and promises to increase speed limits have proven popular with voters. Despite the findings of studies like the one conducted by the IIHS, six states have passed laws to increase their speed limits since 2013.

Evidence that reveals people were violating laws like posted speed limits when they crashed could be used by experienced personal injury attorneys to establish negligence and liability in motor vehicle accident lawsuits. When police accident reports do not conclusively determine that excessive speed was a factor, attorneys may seek to have the vehicles involved inspected. This is because many modern cars are fitted with electronic devices that keep track of and record speed and driver behavior.

Source: The Colorado General Assembly, "State Speed Limits", accessed on April 7, 2019

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