Examining the Relationship Between Speed Enforcement Laws and Traffic Safety
Frank Douma, Director, SLPP, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
Speed continues to be a leading factor in traffic fatalities in the United States, implicated in over 9,500 deaths in 2015. Despite this, in recent years, some states have moved toward more lenient speed regimes. A public choice problem is to blame: voters are not demanding effective speed enforcement regimes of their elected officials. To explore this dilemma, this project attempts to ascertain whether there is a relationship between state speed laws, roadway fatality rates, and public perceptions of speed. Better data is needed for solid conclusions to be made regarding a possible relationship between these three bodies of knowledge. By improving data regarding the role of speed in crashes and public perceptions about speed, and adopting more consistent speed laws across states, this report suggests that a virtuous cycle can be initiated that dismantles the public choice problem and enables the establishment of more effective speed enforcement regimes in the U.S.