IIHS reignites the 'Speed Kills' debate with a new speed limits study

The study claims that as many as 37,000 people are dead over the past 25 years because of rising speed limits.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
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The increase in speed limits in America has led to an increase in traffic deaths, according to the IIHS.

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The argument over speed limits is one that's been raging for over a century, and it seems as though it will keep raging as long as people drive cars.

Those who are opposed to speed limits (or at least low ones) argue that speed doesn't kill. They'll say that speed limits are imposed mainly to generate revenue for municipalities and that most people can handle going as fast as their car will let them.

The other group of people believes that higher speed limits increase the severity of crashes which in turn has the effect of increasing fatalities. This latter group isn't terribly popular with motoring enthusiasts, as you might expect, but if a study published on Thursday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is correct, there might be something to their objections.

The study that IIHS released is an update of a 2016 study that looks at the correlation between traffic fatalities and speed limit increases in the US. The IIHS estimates that around 10,000 people die per year in speed-related traffic incidents and that better, more visible enforcement of speed laws could reduce that number.

"Speeding has become almost a forgotten issue in traffic safety discussions, and clearly we're losing any sense of limits," said Darrin Grondel, chair of the Governor's Highway Safety Administration's Executive Board and director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, in a statement.

Currently, the highest posted speed limit in the country is 85 miles per hour, posted in Texas. Most of America, 41 out of 50 states have freeway speed limits of 70 miles per hour. We've come a long way since the days of The Minutemen's Double Nickels On The Dime and are living in a world where we've vindicated Sammy Hagar. It's almost criminal.

In total, the IIHS is laying the blame for the deaths of 37,000 people over the last 25 years at the feet of state regulators, owing to their increases in speed limits. While this number is a little staggering, it could be argued that these deaths could have been prevented with more robust driver education.

Where do you stand on this issue? Jump in the comments section and let us know.

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