Do You Want to Return to the 55 Mph Limit? Is Policing for Profit Honorable?

Your insurance company probably does want to return to the 55. Your local government probably does also. Should you go along? Well, first let’s take a look at their motives.

Every traffic violation, whether deserved or not, will likely increase your insurance premium.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is gaggle of insurance companies to promote…”highway safety?” I’m skeptical. These are profit-oriented enterprises seeking to increase their bottom line. Nothing wrong with that, and I’m not saying any different. Profit is what private enterprise is all about. It is the profit these companies make by serving our needs and desires that allows them to continue serving our needs and desires.

But when they lie about something to stimulate profit, well then we’re in a whole new universe. They are no longer serving our needs and desires when they lie. They are exploiting our credulity.  All of us are credulous, just on different topics. No company has the right to deceive us to bolster their profit, and that is exactly what I believe the insurance industry in America is trying to do by lying to us about highway speed limits.

Your local government is not supposed to be a profit making enterprise, but it has just as much interest in squeezing as much as possible from your wallet with traffic tickets in areas with intentionally under-posted speed limits.

The truth they want to hide from us is that highway safety has improved since the ridiculous 55 mph National Speed Limit was repealed. Highway fatalities have fallen, as you will see in the NMA bulletin below, in spite of (perhaps because of) higher speed limits and an enormous increase in highway congestion over that time period.

You may have seen what has really happened. Today’s drivers are more adept at navigating higher speeds, and for the most part, drivers are more courteous to other drivers.

Notwithstanding some horrific road rage incidents, overall drivers in today’s world are more willing to yield the right-off-way to other drivers trying to deal with all the congestion. We should always thank them with a hand wave or a flash of light, and I always do when I can do so safely. I think to myself when someone cuts in front of me in a safe manner. Hey, that’s what I do, so I should let this guy in. Experience shows that many if not most other drivers think the same way. It works.

Indented below is an essay from the National Motorists Association which I’ve reprinted with permission. It’s a great newsletter that says it all, from Gary Biller of the National Motorists Association:

The IIHS: When a New Study is Not New and Not a Study—NMA E-Newsletter #535
April 14, 2019
By Gary Biller, NMA President

Every two or three years, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) splashes the media with a recycled report of how many deaths have occurred due to raised speed limits. And reporters dutifully echo it as gospel because sensational headlines like, “Speed limit increases are tied to 37,000 deaths over 25 years,” grab attention and generate views.

That is the current press release title from IIHS for a just-issued report that is a rehash of a similar effort from 2016. The claim from the insurance industry advocacy group made back then, with uncanny precision for a methodology based almost entirely on assumption and extrapolation, was that 32,894 people died from higher speed limits since the 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL) was repealed. This skeptical review of that IIHS claim three years agocould serve just as well in critiquing the 2019 IIHS repeat of the “speed kills” mantra.

Perhaps my favorite quote in the current reporting of the IIHS release is this from Axiom’s “Slow the hell down:”

“ ’Every time you raise speed limits, you see more deaths,’ said IIHS vice president for research and statistical services Charles Farmer.”

It isn’t necessary to stretch our advocacy muscles even a tiny bit to show this as provably false. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia publishes annual highway fatalities rates. Speed limits have climbed steadily since the full repeal of the NMSL in 1995, commonly reaching 75, 80 and even 85 mph, and yet fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled have plummeted:

1995 1.73
2000 1.53
2005 1.46
2010 1.11
2015 1.15

The 2017 fatality rate of 1.16 marks a 33 percent reduction over the past 22 years. Mr. Farmer sees statistics differently than most, but then again, that is evident in how his organization reports its conclusions.

To see who benefits from the posting and enforcement of lower speed limits, look no further than the list of auto insurers that wholly fund the IIHS.

As observed about the 2016 IIHS report, “. . .there is a financial reason for the insurance industry’s advocacy of artificially low speed limits. Every ticket issued on an underposted road raises the insurance premium for the ticketed driver, increasing the industry’s profit.”

What was true then is true now.

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