UPDATED AUGUST 29, 2019
Article by Daniel A. Levy, Esq.
A large part of our personal injury practice are cases involving car accidents. We have seen too many types of car crashes to list, but the most common car accidents involve negligent drivers in densely populated areas who are simply not paying attention and/or driving too fast and too close to the car in front of them.
Recently, in my town of Teaneck, there has been some debate about speed limits on some of the major thoroughfares. Some people dislike the 25 mph speed limit on most of the streets and want them to increase. At the same time, some of my neighbors want to lower the speed limits on some other streets where the limit is higher.
I wanted to take the opportunity to point out a few things on this issue and to suggest that all drivers carefully consider their speed while driving.
Some people ask, why are the speed limits 25 mph? Why not higher? This was a huge issue several years ago when New York City lowered its default speed limit to 25 mph from the old 30 mph limit. As far back as I can recall, my town had a default limit of 25 mph. In any event, the reason for that limit is simple: People are far less likely to die or suffer severe injuries during collision at 25 mph versus 30 mph. That small difference matters, particularly when pedestrians are hit while crossing the street. And as most people in densely-populated New Jersey know, most of our towns have lots of areas with shopping, parks, schools, etc. where pedestrians are routinely crossing the street.
So there is the safety concern, which should cause people to slow down while driving through town. Also, you obviously will avoid the possibility of a speeding ticket if you stick to the posted limit.
But if you do choose to speed, wouldn’t you get to your destination sooner? Isn’t the 25 mph limit really inconvenient and the cause of delay? In reality, it doesn’t delay your trip very much at all. Yes, driving fast down a highway on a long trip will save you some travel time. But during the more routine trip across town, speeding will not save you much at all. A personal friend of mine recently addressed the issue of whether speeding through town would even save you 5 minutes (he happens to be a PhD physicist, so he knows a thing or two about these things). The conclusion was that driving through town at 35 mph as opposed to the 25 mph limit would save you a whopping 78 seconds. And this is at the cost of possibly getting a ticket and greatly increasing the likelihood that you will kill a child who happens to run into the street.