We are constantly bombarded with the message of “speed kills” to make slow down while behind the wheel because it saves lives. While this isn’t necessarily wrong, new research suggests that lowering speed limits may actually increase the odds of a potentially dangerous collision.

Research prepared for the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation found that the majority of motorists choose to drive at a speed that is comfortable and reasonable for the road conditions, often ignoring the posted speed limit. However, those that don’t create hazards that impede traffic and increase the odds of an auto accident.

In North Carolina, the highway speed limit is 70 miles per hour, though we frequently see people traveling somewhere around 75, maybe 80 under optimal conditions on large highways. Nobody would argue that these drivers are being unreasonable, despite the lower speed limit

However, the danger emerges because there are people who choose to drive at the speed limit that often block faster-traveling lanes. According to Chris Klimek, the founder of Canada’s “Stop 100” campaign, it’s this variance in speed that causes accidents. This principle can be demonstrated by the “Solomon Curve,” which demonstrates the increased likelihood of an accident the further away from the road-average speed a car gets.

German Autobahn

For an example of why, let’s take a look at the fastest roads in the world: the German Autobahn. This highway system features several sections with no speed limits, and yet Germany has some of the safest highways in the entire world. This comes despite being up near the top of the list both in vehicle-density and annual miles traveled. In fact, their fatality rate has dropped nearly 70% in the last 26 years.

One of the primary reasons for this is that German laws strictly enforce an “impeding traffic” rule, which states that if you are preventing the flow of traffic through a faster lane due to your own speed, you are endangering those around you. The above research suggests this is true. As a result, German drivers are trained to live in the right lane, and only use the left to pass slower-moving motorists. This results in less traffic, fewer collisions, and ultimately safer roads.

So to help avoid a collision and remain safer on the roads, the answer may not necessarily be to slow down, but to avoid impeding traffic. If you are being passed, particularly on the right, move over to the right and continue your lower speed. Those wishing to move faster will thank you, and you’ll significantly reduce your chances of a dangerous and potentially deadly crash.

If you have been injured in a car accident, contact the skilled North Carolina car accident Attorney at Twiggs, Strickland, & Rabenau. Our team has earned numerous legal accolades, including recognition from Super Lawyers, begin AV® Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, and being named one of the “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report.Call The Law Office of Donald R Strickland today at (919) 828-4357 and let us help you review your legal options for pursuing compensation after your car accident.