Illinois drivers gear up for new 70 mph limit
In December 2014, Illinois lawmakers passed legislation permitting 70 mph speed limits on state toll highways. According to The Quad-City Times, the change will impact more than 300 miles of roads near Chicago. Critics have expressed worries about the safety impacts of these higher speeds. As any Illinois car accident attorney can attest, speed can contribute to more severe crashes and injuries. At higher speeds, drivers may also have more difficulty preventing or avoiding accidents.
Higher speed limits may put drivers and road workers in unnecessary danger. Given this risk, the Illinois Department of Transportation, law enforcement authorities and tollway officials opposed the speed limit changes. Gov. Pat Quinn also attempted to veto the speed limit increase, citing safety concerns. However, the veto was overridden with a majority vote.
The specific ways that higher speed limits will impact highway safety are not known. Research and real-life observations have produced mixed conclusions about greater travel speeds and crash risk. For instance, according to USA Today, speed-related accidents fell 20 percent on certain Utah roads following speed limit increases. However, safety experts caution that accidents and serious outcomes typically become more common when speed limits rise.
Speed can have many adverse effects on a driver’s risk of experiencing severe accidents or injuries. Drivers face the following handicaps when they travel at higher speeds:
- Less effective reaction time, since more distance is covered during each second of response time
- Greater braking distance required to bring the vehicle to a stop
- More kinetic energy to dissipate during the crash
This increase in kinetic energy can lead to more catastrophic outcomes during accidents. These outcomes range from structural vehicular damage to severe injuries. As any Illinois car accident attorney can attest, catastrophic injuries are not uncommon in speed-related accidents.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows that speed is also a significant factor in fatal accidents. Over the last decade, speed has played a role in about one-third of all traffic fatalities. Advances in safety technology have not offset this risk.
Speeding as negligence
In Illinois, the victims of speed-related accidents may have legal recourse. A driver who causes an accident while traveling at a reckless speed may be considered negligent. Even if a driver’s speed was technically legal, it may be considered reckless, depending on traffic and road conditions. An Illinois car accident attorney may be able to offer further advice on redress available to accident victims.
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