Oklahoma residents who are concerned with road safety might be surprised to learn that despite the improvements in safety features in vehicles, the increase in speed limits over the last 20 years have resulted in a significant number of deaths. In fact, according to one study, the 1,900 deaths around the country in 2013 due to the increase in speed limits were about the same as the lives saved from the increased use of airbags.
The study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that while fatalities were down over 20-year-period, deaths due to states increasing the speed limit kept the numbers from being even lower. In 1973, Congress passed a law that mandated states to keep the speed limit at 55 miles per hour in order to receive the maximum amount of federal funds for highways. While the law was not a result of safe driving concerns, it did result in states keeping their speed limits at 55 mph through the 1970s and most of 1980s. In 1987, Congress relaxed the restriction on speed limits and the law was repealed completely in 1995. Through that period, states began increasing their speed limits, first in rural highways, then later in urban ones.