Since congress repealed the national speed limit law in 1995, the actual number of highway fatalities are down and have been declining every year to all time lows. But that is still not enough to solve the debate as to why, and how it could be lowered even more.
In one camp, is the Governors Highway Safety Association, GHSA, which argues tougher enforcement of speeding is the answer. They argue the speed still plays a part in over 10,000 deaths a year and that tougher enforcement, stiffer penalties and more education are the solution. The GHSA says since the repeal, people have seen speed limits more as guidelines and wants to remind people speed limits are also a law.
Not so fast says National Motorist Association, NMA. They agree more education is needed about driving laws and standards, but say in many places speed limits are set too low, and that better road organization is needed. Keeping slower driver in the right lanes has proven to improve safety, but here in the U.S., it is not something considered important and fewer than 1% of all tickets were for impeding traffic.
What is true, is that state and local governments have not increased enforcement, due in part to speed being a "culture issues" according to the GHSA, and that many states have actually increased speed limits, but not fines, and there is fewer cops on the street due in part to the recent recession that put local agencies in tough economic positions. It is also true according to statistics that nearly 31% of speed related deaths involved a slower vehicle in the left lane, despite many states having laws on the books that say they should keep to the right.
The GHSA did agree that many states and local authorities need to look at the speed limits, and that there are places where it is too low causing many to speed.
Uniform traffic pacing with clearly divided speed lanes have proven to be the safest, and the actual speed has not been a contributing factor in the death rate according to German statistics on the autobahn.