What is the impact of speed limits on safety?

Every time you are on the road, you probably see at least one, if not many, other drivers speeding down the freeway. Speeding is incredibly common, especially since most drivers try to move with the flow of traffic – which is often over the speed limit.

Speed limits are not something to overlook. They are also not merely a guideline. They are an important safety tool.

Speed limits 101

Speed limit rules appeared not long after automobiles, in the early 1900s. Of course, automobiles back then could not go nearly as fast as ours can today. However, even then, safety was the priority.

As the Tennessee Department of Transportation highlights in this guide, there are many things to evaluate and calculate when determining a proper speed limit in a certain area. Take a school zone for an example. Speed limits in these areas in Tennessee are usually vary between 15 to 30 miles per hour, but the official limit depends on various factors such as:

  • School enrollment, to determine how populated the area will be by students
  • Traffic rates in that particular area
  • Road design in that area
  • Whether it is a residential or commercial area

The point of speed limits, whether or not they are for a school zone, is to create safety for all road users. This includes drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

Why do many people still speed?

Speeding is one of the top contributors to serious and fatal accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). There are many reasons people speed, including:

  • They aim to move with the flow of traffic, as discussed above
  • Time constraints
  • They have not faced consequences for speeding

If drivers do not face accidents or even traffic stops when they speed, they are more likely to continue speeding. Yet, this behavior puts them and other road users at risk.

It is possible that understanding the reasoning behind speed limits can help road users begin to respect them and promote road safety.

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