Lower speed limits on certain roads could lead to slower drivers everywhere

Posted at 4:49 PM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 17:49:06-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — When driving down the road it's common to see people zipping past you. Common sense says if you want to get people to slow down, change the speed limit.

And research shows just changing a few road's speeds will cause a slow down on other roads. However, Nebraska has done the opposite and the effects aren't going unnoticed.

"We have the worst drivers in America,” said resident Eric Ruckman, "because everybody believes they can go as fast as they want, and they don't pay attention to what they are doing, that's why there are so many wrecks in this town."

If you ask Ruckman speeding is a big problem here. And Lt. Matt Sutter with Nebraska State Patrol agrees with him. “Speeding is probably the most common violation that we see on the roadway,” he said.

41 states have raised speed limits to 70 miles per hour or higher on some roadways. Last year Nebraska raised speed limits, some to 75. And residents say people still go faster than what is posted. “A good example is on 96th street down here they raised the speed limit to 40 and people are doing 45 so it doesn't matter they just need to get where they are going,” said resident, Bill Kinsella. "I understand you know that people are possibly late for work or whatever but there's no need to rush, you'll get there when you get there,” said resident, Jeffrey Gillespie.

In 2018 more than 4300 tickets were given out for speeding in Douglas and Sarpy counties. For some of those tickets, people were going really fast. 571 of them, clocked in at over 90 miles an hour, and 87 of them were going over 100. “Really you don't save that much time on your average commute by traveling even as much as five miles an hour over the speed limit,” said Sutter.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association speeding continues to be a problem nationwide, but in places where cities lowered the speed limit researchers found drivers slowed down all roads.

Eric Koeppe is the president and CEO of the National Safety Council Nebraska. He says lower speed limits wouldn't just cause slower drivers. It would help cut down on crashes caused by speeding. “There's three things that happen when you increase speed, one is you decrease the reaction time of the driver, the second thing is you decrease the ability for that driver to control the car, and the third thing is the severity of the impact of something you hit is higher,” said Koeppe.

People 3 News Now spoke to agree everyone should just slow down to keep the roads safe. “There's no need to rush, just get there safe,” said Gillespie.