Speed kills more than just fuel efficiency. Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – November 10, 2019 Nevada DOT workers install new 80 mph speed limit signs on I-80. Rising speed limits over the past 25 years have cost nearly 37,000 lives, including more than 1,900 in 2017 according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The research, an update of a 2016 analysis, calls attention to the trade-off between a few minutes of saved travel time and the increased risk of fatalities. It comes as IIHS and the Governors Highway Safety Association prepare to host a forum on the speed problem. In response, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has posted a regulatory comment that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) should direct resources to more promising speed management measures, rather than courses intended to educate drivers about the dangers of speeding. Let us begin with the traffic safety problem. 1. More than 9,000 deaths — 26 percent of all crash fatalities — occurred in speed-related crashes in 2017. High speeds make a crash more likely because it takes longer to stop or slow down. They also make collisions more deadly because crash energy increases exponentially as speeds go up. 2. Raising speed limits leads to more deaths. People often drive faster than the speed limit, and if the limit is raised they will go faster still. Research shows that when speed limits are raised, speeds go up, as do fatal crashes. 3. Enforcement of speed limits helps keep speeds down. Traditional enforcement, which relies on police officers to measure speed with radar or other technology, has been joined recently by speed cameras. Speed cameras have been shown to reduce speeds and crashes. NHTSA requested comments on a proposed study of the effects of a driver education course covering vehicle speeds, laws, and the risks of speeding. The course would be offered to licensed drivers with at least one speeding citation or conviction over the previous three years. In their comment, the IIHS stated that a large body of evidence shows that education has not been effective in addressing traffic safety issues such as speeding, alcohol-impaired driving, or seat belt use. Moreover, drivers already know the risks of speeding, and that knowledge has not influenced their behavior. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s 2018 Traffic Safety Culture Index, the majority of U.S. drivers believe that driving 15 mph over the speed limit on freeways and 10 mph over the speed limit on residential streets is very or extremely dangerous. Yet nearly as many drivers admit to having driven that fast over the past month. Measures such as encouraging the use of automated enforcement and incentivizing automakers to install intelligent speed adaptation — technology that alerts speeding drivers or automatically slows the vehicle to ensure compliance with speed limits — offer greater potential benefits than education. Promoting effective law enforcement strategies, safe speed limits and traffic-calming techniques would also be beneficial. Safety aside, Greenhouse Gas Emissions climb with every increase in fuel consumption and nothing does that faster than higher speeds and higher speed limits. If only the public knew.