Fewer people have died on Indiana roads in the year since speed limits were raised, but deaths on the six main interstates with new 70-mph stretches rose by 40 percent, reports the Indianapolis Star. Speeding tickets increased by 10 percent on those sections. Opponents of the higher speed limit say the fatality surge was a predictable consequence. But Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels suggested roads are safer now. Police say it is far too early to assess in full how the higher limits have influenced highway safety.
The new law, which took effect July 1, 2005, made Indiana the 30th state to increase interstate speeds to at least 70 mph. At first glance, the data look positive. Total deaths statewide declined in the year since the higher speeds were enacted, falling to 836 from 897. The number of crashes also dropped — to 177,800 from 209,500. A closer look at Indiana’s interstates, however, offers a different portrait.
Total deaths on Indiana’s six main interstates rose to 91 from 65 in the year since the 70-mph limit took effect. Interstate fatalities where unsafe speeds were cited as a factor also grew: to 16 from 11.