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Study says increased speed limits cause more deaths

Legal speed limits have increased over the years in Minnesota as well as in many other states over the last few years. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, these higher speeds have contributed to increased traffic accident fatalities.

Researchers at IIHS concluded that between 1993 and 2013, increases in speed limits in 41 states were responsible for 33,000 traffic deaths. Fatality rates overall fell during the period studied, but IIHS says that the rates would have been much lower if not for speed limit increases.

The standard 55 mph speed limit came about in 1973 when Congress encouraged states to set their maximum speed limits to 55 mph by refusing highway funds to any state that did not comply. That law was eventually modified to allow speed limits of 65 on rural interstate highways, and in 1995 the law was completely repealed. Since then, many states have raised their speed limits to as much as 80 mph, and in Texas the maximum speed limit on some roads is 85 mph.

At the end of the study period in 2013, the highest maximum speed limits in the country were below 80 mph. IIHS says the estimate of 33,000 deaths may be much lower than the actual number of deaths for that period, and with even higher speed limits in place since 2013, the situation is unlikely to improve.

Because speed limits vary on different roads and highways, drivers are responsible for paying attention to posted signs and driving below the maximum speed limit at all times.

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