Excess speed is identified as a contributing factor in nearly one-third of all fatal auto accidents, both nationally and in Arkansas. That's the reason law enforcement agencies throughout the state are seeking to crack down on speed-related traffic offenses according to Hot Springs Village Voice.
The move is particularly timely in light of a legislative change last year to increase the speed limit on Arkansas interstates from a maximum 70 mph to a top speed of 75 mph, as THV11 reported. Lawmakers approved the measure last year, but the state Department of Transportation is taking its time with implementation, with one spokesman noting there was no mandate that the law immediately go into effect.
Safety Officials Say Speeding Kills
Traffic safety advocates and law enforcement officers who investigate speed-related crashes want to do more to educate people about the fact that speeding makes it much more difficult for any motorist - no matter how experienced, sober and alert - to safely navigate around other vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as road conditions like curves or heavy rain. Excess speed also intensifies the danger that exists when one must make an evasive maneuver or change lanes for an upcoming, unexpected exit.
Even a seemingly small uptick in speed can have serious consequences in practice on the road. That's why even though a 5 mph increase in the maximum speed limit may not seem like much, we understand why the state DOT has been reticent to race toward implementation of the new Arkansas speed limit law.
Traffic engineers must be exceedingly cautious in deciding which roads may be appropriate for such action. For instance, how much daily traffic does the road get? If it's a heavily-traveled route, there may be an innately higher crash risk that could give state officials pause. If the road travels through a city, engineers may want to avoid allowing drivers to coast along at the maximum speed before suddenly needing to slow through urban traffic. They must also consider the unique design of the road, which may have sharp curves and frequent exits.
Officials say there is a total of nearly 16,400 miles of highway throughout Arkansas, including both rural and urban freeways and highways, according to the THV11 story. Determining whether it's safe to proceed with raising the speed limit on each of those roads will take considerable time.
While most drivers during the public comment period prior to the law's passage did indicate they wished to raise the limit to 75, the majority still drove at speeds of 71 mph or less in those 70 mph zones. Some have argued that a higher speed limit will allow for more expedient travel for those traveling throughout the state. However, the DOT official said safety must always be the top priority, noting that every time a speed limit is raised, so too is the risk of severe crash-related injuries.