Speed May Not Save Lives - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

07/04/05 - Nacogdoches

Speed May Not Save Lives

by Donna McCollum

On this July 4th holiday when all motorist laws are emphasized, we learn speed limits may not be saving lives. From a historical perspective, speed limits were formed in the 1970's to combat a gasoline shortage. In the 80's the focus shifted to public safety. In 1995 Congress returned all speed limit authority back to the states. Across the nation speed limits went above 55 miles per hour.

Safety advisors predicted fatalities would climb. They didn't. SFA political science professor Dr. Robert Yowel found, "Speed is not as much a threat to the control of the action as being physical impaired and to make sure that's not going on vigorous enforcement definitely cuts down of fatalities." Yowell concludes the enforcement of drinking laws and safety laws probably help save more lives than concentrating on a motorist's speed.

While driving at a safe speed is extremely important, there are other factors that keep you safe on the road. Such as using your seat belt and having a car equipped with an air bag, said Yowell.

Troopers credit both for saving lives. One reason why Texas once again is taking part in the nationwide safety campaign called, 'Operation CARE,' for Combined Accident Reduction Effort. Troopers are urging people to wear their seat belt and not to drink and drive. Last year troopers arrested 923 suspected drunken drivers over the July 4th holiday period.

Nevertheless troopers are quick to remind motorists the higher the speed, the harder the impact during a collision. DPS Trooper Greg Sanches said, "People are driving faster on the bigger roads and once they turn off to a smaller road we're noticing that's where our fatalities went up."

Despite his findings, Yowell knows there are legitimate reasons you shouldn't speed like the price of a speeding ticket. Yowell admitted, "I will rarely speed more than one or two miles over the speed limit. I believe physically and mentally I can drive safely faster, but I don't want to pay the price." .

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