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Higher speed limits could lead to increased fatalities

Although setting speed limits has been a somewhat controversial topic in Tennessee and across the nation, many states have decided to increase the speed limit on highways and freeways. In Texas, for example, state officials increased the speed limit to 85 mph on one stretch of road in 2012. Despite these speed limit changes, some believe that increasing the speed limit could lead to a significant rise in motor vehicle accidents, injuries and deaths on state roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speed-related car accidents led to 10,219 deaths in 2012. A number of studies also support the fact that increases in speed have a direct link to vehicular accidents and deaths.

One study conducted in Washington took a look at how speed limit changes in the state affected the motorist death rate, according to Vox.com. When the speed limit rose in 1987, the number of people killed in vehicle accidents also increased. Furthermore, the motor vehicle accident fatality rate in urban areas where the speed limit stayed the same did not see an increase in deaths. Another study showed a rise in accident deaths by an average of 35 percent for every 2 mph that the speed limit increased.

A number of states have different speed limits for cars, trucks and motorcycles, as reported by the Governors Highway Safety Association. In addition, speed limits can change depending on whether the roadway is in or outside of the city. In Tennessee, however, the state has a set speed limit of 70 mph across rural and urban interstates. 

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