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Will Maryland Speed Limit Increases Cause More Accidents?

Posted on: January 27, 2015

A bill that the Maryland General Assembly will consider would put a cap on how high the speed limit can be set. A synopsis of Senate Bill 44 reads that the measure, if approved, would be “Increasing from 65 miles an hour to 70 miles an hour the maximum speed limit that may be established on specified highways in the State.”

The goal, from a law enforcement standpoint, will be to tamp down speeding no matter where the road signs set the bar.  The reason is that speeders kill and injure people every year.  The Maryland Highway Safety Office inspired a program designed to curb speeding and other forms of so-called “aggressive driving,” called the Smooth Operator program.

Smooth Operator

Targeted law enforcement and public awareness through the media are the key components of Smooth Operator.  The program is about doing whatever it takes – by operating in a multifaceted campaign – to nab speeders and other aggressive drivers before they kill or injure.

“Aggressive driving continues to be the major contributing factor in most all crashes involving motor vehicles within Maryland; in fact, data indicates that more than one-third of all traffic deaths each year in the region involve aggressive driving,” reads the MHSO’s Highway Safety Plan for fiscal year 2014.  “Most specifically, data indicate that speed is one of the major factors contributing to crashes.  Over the past five years, on average, 5,991 aggressive driving crashes occurred each year on Maryland’s roadways.  On average, 57 people lost their lives each year, representing slightly more than 10 percent of all of Maryland’s traffic fatalities.”

“In addition, 4,033 people, on average, were injured annually, representing more than 9 percent of all of Maryland’s traffic injuries.  The region’s aggressive driving marketing program draws attention to the aggressive driving problem.”

Speeding Throughout the Rest of the United States

The national figures on speeding are not all that encouraging.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in May 2014 issued its Traffic Safety Facts centered on speeding.  The report focused on data from 2012, which was at the time the most recent year for which figures were available.

“Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes and at a tremendous cost,” reads the federal agency’s report.  “NHTSA estimates that the annual economic cost to society of speeding-related crashes is $40.4 billion.  In 2012, speeding was a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes, and 10,219 lives were lost in speeding-related crashes.  Speeding-related fatalities increased by 2 percent from 10,001 in 2011 to 10,219 in 2012.”

Here is how the agency summarized age and gender breakdowns:  “For drivers involved in fatal crashes, young males are the most likely to be speeding.  The relative proportion of speeding-related crashes to all crashes decreased with increasing driver age.  In 2012, 24 percent of female drivers in the 15- to 20-year-old age group and 19 percent of female drivers in the 21- to 24-year-old age group involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash.  Among males, 37 percent of 15- to 20-year-old and 37 percent of 21- to 24-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding.”

No matter what the speed limit is, we can certainly hope that the state’s law enforcement agencies and Maryland traffic officials can effectively reduce the incidence of speeding-related accidents and all other forms of motor vehicle crashes.

Nevertheless, speeders will invariably push the envelope; they may break the envelope wide open.  People will take their chances that they won’t get caught speeding and, in the process, endanger their lives and the lives of others.

Where the Lawyers Come In

We often receive calls from victims who have been injured in a collision due to the carelessness of a speeder or another type of aggressive driver. We help victims investigate the circumstances of the collision, identify what went wrong, document evidence and negotiate with the insurance companies involved to ensure that the victim or victims receive the fair compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other losses.

Get in Touch with us for a free consultation.  Our toll-free number is 1-888-540-2599.

See Our Related Blog Posts

What About the Reckless Drivers Police Don’t Catch?

Accidents Happen Despite Laudable Law Enforcement Crackdowns

Justin Katz is a personal injury lawyer who represents injury victims in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC
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