Will 70 MPH Speed Limits in Virginia Make Interstates Less Safe With More Accidents? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

During the 2011 July 4th weekend, Virginia roads and highways saw 13 traffic deaths, doubling the total of fatalities for the same period of 2010. This is a chilling reminder of the deadly risks from driving at high speeds and while distracted or intoxicated.

Despite these driving dangers, Virginia legislators are allowing drivers to step on the gas a little more by increasing the speed limit to 70 mph on several interstates, including a stretch of I-64 on between northern Newport News and close to Richmond.  It is too early to tell if raising the speed limit will increase fatal accidents on VA roads.

Gov. Bob McDonnell advocated the higher speed limits. Though, state officials might not begin a study until December 2012. Then, a review could take six to eight months more. Studies show a that increased speed puts drivers at higher risks for accidents.

Even if speed limits get increased, drivers should still be aware of road and weather conditions that might require them to slow down. The vast majority of car crashes involve some type of driver error. This means drivers can impact traffic safety by driving defensively.