We are constantly bombarded with the message of “speed kills”
to make slow down while behind the wheel because it saves lives. While
this isn’t necessarily wrong, new research suggests that lowering
speed limits may actually increase the odds of a potentially dangerous
Research prepared for the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation found that the majority of motorists choose to drive at a speed that is
comfortable and reasonable for the road conditions, often ignoring the
posted speed limit. However, those that don’t create hazards that
impede traffic and increase the odds of an accident.
In North Carolina, the highway speed limit is 70 miles per hour, though
we frequently see people traveling somewhere around 75, maybe 80 under
optimal conditions on large highways. Nobody would argue that these drivers
are being unreasonable, despite the lower speed limit
However, the danger emerges because there are people who choose to drive
at the speed limit that often block faster-traveling lanes. According
to Chris Klimek, the founder of
Canada’s “Stop 100” campaign, it’s this variance in speed that causes accidents.
This principle can be demonstrated by the “Solomon Curve,” which demonstrates the increased likelihood of an accident the further
away from the road-average speed a car gets.
For an example of why, let’s take a look at the fastest roads in
the world: the German Autobahn. This highway system features several sections
with no speed limits, and yet Germany has some of the safest highways
in the entire world. This comes despite being up near the top of the list
both in vehicle-density and annual miles traveled. In fact, their fatality
rate has dropped nearly 70% in the last 26 years.
One of the primary reasons for this is that German laws strictly enforce
an “impeding traffic” rule, which states that if you are preventing
the flow of traffic through a faster lane due to your own speed, you are
endangering those around you. The above research suggests this is true.
As a result, German drivers are trained to live in the right lane, and
only use the left to pass slower-moving motorists. This results in less
traffic, fewer collisions, and ultimately safer roads.
So to help avoid a collision and remain safer on the roads, the answer
may not necessarily be to slow down, but to avoid impeding traffic. If
you are being passed, particularly on the right, move over to the right
and continue your lower speed. Those wishing to move faster will thank
you, and you’ll significantly reduce your chances of a dangerous
and potentially deadly crash.
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact the skilled North Carolina
car accident attorneys at
Twiggs, Strickland, & Rabenau. Our team has earned numerous legal accolades, including recognition from
Super Lawyers, begin AV® Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, and being
named one of the “Best Law Firms” by
U.S. News & World Report.
Call Twiggs, Strickland & Rabenau today at 919.701.8132 and let us help you
review your legal options for pursuing compensation after your car accident.