How do Speed Limits Affect Fort Lauderdale Car Accidents?

In Fort Lauderdale and across Florida, there are speed limits in place to ensure that drivers do not go faster than has been decided is safe for that specific area. Many believe that speed limits help limit serious Fort Lauderdale car accidents and injuries. In fact, studies have shown that high-speed car accidents are more likely to lead to fatalities and serious injuries when compared with similar accidents that only different in terms of speed. Studies have also shown that too-high speeds can cause drivers to lose control of their cars and cause accidents. This leads some experts to conclude that reducing speed limits could help prevent Fort Lauderdale traffic accidents – but is this the case?

Florida is not the only state considering traffic speeds. In Texas, the Department of Transportation is considering changing a stretch of highway to 85 mph. If the change is approved, it could mean that a stretch of the 130 will have the highest speed limit in the US.
Some studies have shown that highway and freeway fatalities increase in proportion with speed limits. However, these studies do not necessarily examine whether the accidents are caused in part by more traffic, as more drivers are drawn to the promise of a faster road and more convenient travel times. Studies do reveal, however, that high speed car accidents mean greater force of impact and therefore more serious injuries as well as a greater chance of fatalities.

However, other studies show that even when speed limits are increased, drivers tend to stay in their own safety zones when it comes to speed. Some studies have also suggested that drivers, on average, are more cautious on higher-speed roads, which may actually mean more accidents. This research also suggests why so many accidents take place on rural and residential roads, where speed limits are lower.

There may also be anecdotal evidence suggesting that higher roadway speeds do not necessarily mean more Fort Lauderdale truck accidents and car accidents. For example, in 1995 New York increased its highway speed limit to 65 mph and after this change the overall traffic accident rate in the state declined 4%. A 2000 study in California found that increased speed limits in that state did not increase accident rates. In fact, only one Iowa study found that after that state’s 1996 shift in speed limits from 55 to 66 mph increased the number of traffic accidents.

Many experts believe that it is traffic flow rather than simply car speed which affects car accident rates. This idea hails back to the 1950s, when traffic researcher David Solomon found that car accidents are more likely to occur when there are different rates of speed. According to Solomon, what the overall speed is matters less than the differences in speed between cars. Therefore, today municipalities try to set speed limits by determining what the vast majority – 85% — of motorists will drive in a given area under normal conditions. Encouraging motorists to drive a similar speed, rather than lowering or raising speed limits, may be the best way to prevent accidents.

The problem may be that drivers may not obey speed limits, especially when speed limits change. A National Motorists Association study in 1996 found that once a new speed limit is in place motorists will change their speeds only slightly in light of the change. In cases where speed limits changed by between 5-20 mph, for example, researchers found that motorists speeds changed by less than 2 mph.


Do you need a Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney? If you have been seriously injured in a traffic accident in South Florida, contact the Flaxman Law Group to schedule a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your case.

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