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Illinois approves increased speed on toll roads – will car accidents rise?

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According to the Illinois General Assembly website, state legislators recently approved Senate Bill 2015, which increases the speed limits on toll highways from 65 to 70 mph. This new law was passed despite a veto from Gov. Pat Quinn, who expressed concerns that a higher speed limit would result in more accidents. Both national and state studies arguably support the governor’s views, but an Illinois car accident attorney would explain that only time will tell whether Gov. Quinn’s concerns are warranted.

The effect of higher speed limits

The governor’s reservations regarding the new speed limit find support in a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The organization explains that motorists have a tendency to exceed speed limits even when those limits are increased. For example, on California freeways with a 55 mph speed limit, the percentage of drivers who exceeded 70 mph was 29 percent. When the limit was increased to 65 mph, this percentage of drivers jumped to 41 percent. This type of behavior was also observed in Texas, Nevada and New Mexico.

In his message to the Illinois Senate explaining his veto, Gov. Quinn cited a 2013 report by the state’s Toll Highway Authority. This study found that over 70 percent of Illinois drivers were speeding 15 mph or more over the posted limit. Based on the findings of the IIHS, this trend is estimated to continue after the introduction of the new speed limit, which means that toll highway motorists could begin to travel at a rate that exceeds 85 mph. Driving at such high speeds is associated with violent collisions, lengthened stopping distances and increased fatalities, so it is very possible that an Illinois car accident attorney will see the rate and severity of accidents increase in the wake of the new speed limit.

Speeding causes fatalities and serious injuries

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding-related collisions comprised 30 percent of fatal crashes in 2012. The NHTSA report also notes that speeding was a contributing factor in 35 percent of crashes that took place in maintenance or construction areas. These statistics illustrate that speeding is a serious issue with which public officials should be concerned.

It remains to be seen whether Gov. Quinn’s concerns about this specific law will prove to be correct. If the new speed limit does in fact produce higher accident rates, the damage caused by these injuries will be borne by the victims of these collisions. Those who find themselves in such positions may want to reach out to an Illinois car accident attorney, as doing so may help these victims obtain compensation from those who caused their injuries.