Experts say 65 mph was a big mistake – Was it? (Poll)
Even as Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon pushes for a study into hiking New Jersey speed limits above 65 mph, data shows raising it above 55 mph cost thousands of lives nationally. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the federal government resisted the public pressure to allow states to hike their speed limits to 65 or higher. 33,000 lives would have been spared in that time since the late 90's.
Before you call BS on this, yes they admit auto fatalities have declined in those years, but they say far bigger declines would have occurred had we not raised speed limits. You may be thinking back when it was first raised in NJ how people didn't seem to be abusing it, how people didn't increase their speeds to 75 or 80. You would be right. Except they have over time.
Enforcement has slipped and speeds have risen over the years. The five year period following Jersey's 65 mph limit compared to the five year period concluding in 2014 are night and day. A 55.3% increase in fatalities directly attributed to unsafe speeds.
33,000 people is a lot of lives lost. Yes you could argue many more than that would be saved if we lowered all speed limits to 20 mph and wore helmets while driving and strapped pillows to our cars. That makes for a nice argument in a bar, but when we're going to be serious about an issue, we recognize there's a tipping point when reasonable becomes unreasonable.
I don't foresee anyone clamoring to lower speed limits with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's report. It does, however, offer food for thought as to how we move forward. I greatly respect Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon's constant battles for the little guy, such as his crusade against red light cameras. On this one though I'm not sure he's right. What do you think?