WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to an informal GHSA survey of state highway safety agencies, only Wisconsin reports a noticeable trend of reduced speeds as a result of high gas prices. Wisconsin officials report that while traffic volume is down slightly, speeds are also down, directly impacting both the frequency and seriousness of crashes across the entire state. State troopers report speeds along the freeways are moderating especially with commercial vehicles, many of which have slowed to travel at or even below the speed limit. A handful of other states note the reduced speed of commercial vehicles, likely resulting from more trucking companies setting policies that require their drivers to stay below a set speed, such as 67 mph.
In addition to helping fight the cost of record-high gas prices, slowing down also increases the likelihood of surviving a crash. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in a high-speed crash, a passenger vehicle is subjected to forces so severe that the vehicle structure cannot withstand the impact of the crash and maintain survival space in the occupant compartment.
According to GHSA Chairman Christopher Murphy, "Nationally, GHSA members report that we are not seeing any noticeable decreases in travel speeds by passenger vehicles. However, given the extremely high gas prices and life-saving benefits of slowing down, we urge the public to ease off the accelerator."
GHSA conducted an e-mail survey of state highway safety agencies May 7-9, 2008. States were asked if they were seeing any noticeable decrease in travel speeds by either passenger vehicles or commercial vehicles. If data didn't exist, the agency was asked its opinion based on observation by its staff and law enforcement personnel.