Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Speed Up, Death Down

Here's a cheery bit of news from the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page. Seems fears of skyrocketing death tolls due to the repeal of the national 55 mph speed limit were unfounded:

In 2005, according to new data from the National Highway Safety Administration, the rate of injuries per mile traveled was lower than at any time since the Interstate Highway System was built 50 years ago. The fatality rate was the second lowest ever, just a tick higher than in 2004.
Apparently, according to the WSJ, only 5% of the population was following the national limit anyway, so maybe the deaths from higher speeds were already factored in to the statistics, or maybe cars have just gotten safer over the years. However, it seems at least possible to me that raising the limits allowed the law-abiding to catch up with the impatient, thus facilitating a more consistent flow of traffic, and reducing one potential source of accidents. Whatever the reason, fatalities have gone down instead of up since the speed limits started rising:
Of the 31 states that have raised their speed limits to more than 70 mph, 29 saw a decline in the death and injury rate and only two--the Dakotas--have seen fatalities increase.
I'd be interested in knowing what's going on in the Dakotas. Maybe they repealed the DUI laws at the same time, huh?

Hat tip: Instapundit


  1. Okay, you got my curiosity up regarding the Dakotas, so I did a little checking. Nothing definitive, but I found some interesting facts.
    1. South Dakota is one of the worst states for emergency facilities, including ambulance and 'life flight' services. Perhaps some who would survive in other states couldn't because help didn't arrive in time.
    2. Neither North nor South Dakota have a Primary Offense seat belt law, which means you can only be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt if you are pulled over for another offense.

    An interesting, yet bizarre, fact. ND & SD have the cheapest auto insurance in the country.

  2. Interesting trivia indeed. Sheds a little light on the "Mystery of the Dakotas". Thanks for the research. Now I wonder what the deal is with the insurance. Seems counterintuitive, to say the least, but maybe they have a lower accident rate overall, or something, and just a higher chance of dying of they are so unfortunate as to have an accident that doesn't happen to be in easy reach of EMT services.