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Lobbyist Money Help  

Higher Speeds Mean Higher Costs

November 29, 1995
By: ELIZABETH MCKINLEY
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Those who want Missouri's speed limits to go back up will have to pay if their wish comes true.

And so will everyone else.

If Missouri speed limits rise, so will insurance rates - by 15 percent, said Randy McConnell, spokesman for the Missouri Insurance Department.

"Anytime a component (such as speed) rises, there are more severe accidents, more fatalities and more claims. This makes higher insurance rates," said Calvin Call, executive director of the Missouri Insurance Information Service, a public relations service to the insurance industry.

The National Safety Council estimates in the first year of increased speed limits, there will be 211 additional fatalities each year, Call said.

This 15 percent increase could show up on your next insurance bill, if Missouri's speed limits increase. With an open market system, Missouri insurance companies are free to raise rates as they see fit, McConnell said.

However, Call said a higher speed limit might not affect insurance company rates for one to three years. The reason -- it would take that long to realize the impact of a higher speed limit on highway fatalities and number of claims filed, he said.

When the 55-mph speed limit was put into place in 1974, Call said highway deaths decreased by 400. But when the interstate speed limits increased to 65 mph in the 1980s, the highway fatality rate remained steady.

Lt. Ron Beck, public information officer for the Missouri Highway Patrol, said speed isn't the only factor that affects highway safety. He said seat belt laws, safer cars and items like child restraint seats contribute to safer roads.

"It's a combination of these things that kept fatality rates near the same," Beck said.

Still, Beck said the Missouri Highway Patrol is concerned over motorists traveling at faster speeds.

"Past experience indicates an increase in speed increases the opportunities for someone to be critically injured or killed because of the increase speed," Beck said.