Pennsylvania recently raised the maximum speed limit on some highways to 70 MPH. Although this higher speed limit may be convenient for motorists in a hurry, it also poses significant safety risks to drivers and passengers on these roadways. Because of this change, the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities in Pennsylvania is likely to increase in the coming years.
Why the Speed Limit Increase?
In 2013, the state of Pennsylvania passed Act 89, a transportation law that allowed the speed limit in certain areas to be raised to 70 MPH. In July of 2014, the speed limit on the section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike that runs from Milepost 201 to Milepost 298 was raised to 70 MPH on a trial basis. On May 3, 2016, the remaining areas on the Turnpike that has a previous speed limit of 65 MPH were also raised to 70 MPH. In an attempt to prevent accidents related to these changes, new speed limit signs, advisory signs and curve warning signs were also installed by the state.
A total of 997 miles of roadway in Pennsylvania now have the higher speed limit of 70 MPH. Most of this roadway is located in less-congested areas where officials perceive that the risk of accidents at high speeds will be lower. Areas where the speed limit has increased will be monitored in the months and years that come so that any safety concerns can be addressed.
Currently, 33 other states have maximum speed limits of at least 70 MPH or more on some of their larger roadways. South Dakota and Nevada have maximum speeds of 80 MPH, and some parts of Texas allow motorists to travel at speeds of up to 85 MPH. Unfortunately, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Governors Highway Safety Association, states that have increased their speed limits to these levels have also seen an increase in the number of traffic accidents. Furthermore, when motorists are traveling at higher speeds, accidents that do occur are more likely to be serious. Thus, motorists and passengers involved in these accidents are more likely to sustain significant and/or fatal injuries.
The risk of injuries and fatalities at high speeds increase even further when motorists drive in excess of the posted limit. In fact, the Governors Highway Safety Association reports that more than one in four traffic accident fatalities in 2014 were related to speeding. With the speed limit raised to 70 MPH, many motorists will be tempted to increase their speeds on these highways to 75 MPH, 80 MPH, or even more.
Staying Safe on the Road
Although Pennsylvania has increased its maximum speed limit on certain parts of the Turnpike, drivers are not required to drive at this speed, especially if traffic, roadway, or weather conditions would make it unsafe to travel at such a high speed. To prevent accidents, motorists should always obey posted speed limits and drive at speeds well below the limit in adverse conditions. Drivers should also be vigilant while on any Pennsylvania roadway, especially those with higher posted speed limits. By watching other drivers, motorists can anticipate potential problems before they occur and react accordingly. Vigilance is especially important when sharing the road with larger vehicles, such as commercial trucks.
Seeking Legal Counsel
If you have been injured in an accident on a Pennsylvania roadway, seeking legal counsel is highly recommended. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to sue for your medical bills, lost wages, and more. Contact a qualified attorney to learn more about your options.