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Slow Down; We Move Too Fast

Author James Gleick wrote of a hastening society in his 1999 book "Faster." Mr. Gleick noted increased speed in just about everything - from the quickening number of film cuts in movies to faster drivers creating danger on the nation's roads.

In fact, at a recent traffic safety conference, the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration spoke to the urgent need for law enforcement to more specifically target speeding , commendably reporting it wants to make getting drivers to stop speeding a new priority.

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Both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and NHTSA report about a third of all car crashes involve speeding. NHTSA had previously made drunk driving, seat-belt use, and curbing rollover fatalities its top issues, but since the government got rid of the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit in 1995, numerous studies have shown that higher speed limits lead to more traffic deaths. One report noted traffic deaths went up 38 percent when limits were raised from 65 m.p.h. to 75 m.p.h. - a change worth review.

The auto industry itself should also refrain from ads that aggressively cater to speed. General Motors once had an internal policy that it shouldn't promote cars as fast and powerful. It - and the rest of the auto industry - should resurrect that policy.

NHTSA is being responsible by focusing on speeders. Its strategy to help states fight speeders, especially on local roads (where the fatality rate is more than three times as high as on the interstates) includes using more police enforcement, targeting the worst speeders, and making greater use of traffic cameras. If NHTSA can get law enforcement to make drivers slow down, it will have achieved a worthy measure of success.


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