55, a Decade of Experience

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Edythe Traylor Crump
Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, 1984 - Technology & Engineering - 262 pages
Under support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Research Council assembled a committee of 19 individuals with expertise in the various disciplines needed to evaluate the benefits and costs of the 55 mph speed limit and to assess the effectiveness of state laws in inducing compliance. The findings and recommendations of the committee are presented in this report, along with the unresolved issues that surround the appropriate speed limit for selected roads. The committee findings on the consequences of the 55 mph speed limit relate to safety, energy, taxpayer costs, and travel time. Recent trends in motorist compliance and pressures for change are also discussed.

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This was the most comprehensive, definitive study of the effects, costs and benefits of the 55 mph national maximum speed limit ever published. In spite of its general pro-55 mph orientation, it did discuss the alternative of a higher speed limit on rural Interstate highways fairly and honestly.
Overall, I believe the National Research Council deserves credit for doing a very good job. Whether they knew it or not, they paved the way for the 1987 legislation permitting states to post 65 mph on rural Interstate and other Interstate-quality rural highways, and the ultimate repeal of the National Maximum Speed Law in 1995. Today, our nation's highways and roads are safer than they have ever been--without 55!
 

Contents

INTRODUCTION
15
HIGHWAY SAFETY AND THE 55 MPH SPEED LIMIT
31
ESTIMATED REDUCTIONS IN INJURIES AND INJURY SEVERITY
76

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