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Table of Contents
Page No. Abstract …………………………………………………………………… Introduction ………………………………………………………………. Texas Proofing of vehicles ……………………………………………… 3 5 6

1940-49 War Speed Limit ………………………………………………… 10 Data available for scientific analysis …………………………………… 11 Iowa motor vehicle fatalities data ………………………………………. 16 The Montana no speed limit safety paradox ………………………….. 28 The Texas Interstate traffic fatalities-crashes …………………………. 38 Iowa statewide crash data and changing speed limits ……………….. 40 Kansas speeding related crashes-fatalities ……………………………. 45 Summary and Conclusions ………………………………………………. 50 Appendix 1: Legendre‟s Best-fit line and Einstein‟s Work function…... 54 Appendix 2 : NHTSA Workshop on Vehicle Mass-Safety……………… 57


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Several state legislatures in the US, notably Texas, have recently voted to increase the legal speed limits on their highways. Texas would soon have the highest posted speed limit of 85 mph (136 kmph) in the nation and the second highest in the world. In this context it is important to understand, dispassionately without any socio-political and economic prejudices, the effect of increased speed limits on traffic-related fatalities. Nearly 40,000 people die in traffic-related accidents each year, the social costs of which cannot be overlooked. A review of the fatalities data, or the fatality rate data (based on VMT, the Vehicle Miles Traveled) often yield conflicting signals, depending on how the data is “mined” and/or interpreted. Some states indicate increased fatalities with increasing speed limits while others indicate just the opposite. Indeed, according to NHTSA, the absolute number of fatalities has reached a historical low in 2010 since 1949. Many statewide data reveal similar historical lows. (The current depressed state of the US economy may certainly be a factor here!) The fatality rates, based on VMT, have also been decreasing year after year. Yet, there can be no doubt that crashes occurring at higher and higher speeds, which are inevitable if the legal speed limits are raised, will be increasingly gruesome and the US might indeed witness an “epidemic” of traffic related deaths, as in the 1950s and 1960s, which prompted congressional hearings and historic traffic safety legislations. Teenagers and inexperienced drivers are, perhaps, the most susceptible. Attention is therefore called to a new, and remarkably simple, method of addressing this issue, as discussed here, which is based on an analysis of well documented data on fatal crashes and fatalities in various states. It is shown that as the number of fatal crashes, x, increases the number of fatalities, y, increases following a simple linear law y = hx + c (see Figures 2, 11, and 13 and sidebar on page 15). The numerical values of the constants h and c can be deduced using the classical statistical method known as linear regression analysis. A graphical representation of the data,
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with observations made over several years that span different speed limits, suggest no statistically significant effect of the speed limit (see, in particular, Figures 14 to 16). Nonetheless, the physical effects of an increase in the absolute speed limits cannot be overlooked and the increasing amounts of energy that must be absorbed in crashes occurring at higher and higher speeds (see Figure 1) must be factored into any societal consensus on this important problem that should engage our national attention – like any other major newsworthy tragedy. The interaction of speed, safety, vehicle mass, fuel economy and crashworthiness, and other social costs, such as insurance and medical costs, will ultimately govern the course of vehicle development. Innovations in materials technology, that permit the use of highstrength, lightweight materials, might help us “Texas Proof” our vehicles and spur a new era in high speed personal and public transportation. A review of the historical trends in the traffic fatality data, from 1899 to the present, is presented in a separate write up.


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This is the second of a two-part article prepared by the author, prompted mainly by a recent news item about attempts by the Texas legislature to increase the speed limit to 85 mph, at least in some parts of the state. The speed limit in Texas now is 80 mph, with Utah being the only other state with this high a speed limit. 85 mph would be the highest posted speed limit in the United States and the second highest in the world. A speed of 140 kmph (86 mph) is posted in some parts of Poland. The problem that we are trying to address here is a very simple one. We simply do not seem to agree on what all the data that is being compiled meticulously, by various government and law enforcement agencies, about highway fatalities really means, especially the effect of increased speed limits in various states on the highway fatalities. Proponents of increasing the speed limits point to low fatality numbers from Montana, for example, just 27 for the 12 month period in 1998-1999, when Montana law only specified reasonable and prudent as the recommended speed. This was the law from December 1995 to June 1999 and fatalities jumped to 56 in the following 12-months when a 75 mph speed limit was imposed. Some other states, where speed limits were increased, also revealed a reduction in fatalities after the increase. Proponents of reduced speed limits, on the other hand, point to data from states where fatalities increased after the speed limits were raised. The argument has also been made that the number of fatalities per se is not a good measure and that fatality rates, not fatalities, must be considered. Fatality rates could be adjusted to reflect population, or registered motor vehicles, or licensed drivers, or vehicles miles traveled
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(VMT), the last being the most commonly used, see NHTSA . The fatality rate per 100 million VMT is thus taken to be the relevant statistic. However, as noted in the earlier report by the author, the fatality rates, based on the VMT, for the US taken as a whole, have been declining year after year, since 1921. This fatality rate has dropped to a historical low of in 2010. Touting a low VMT based fatality rate is tantamount to the argument that it is somehow better to die in a fatal crash after driving a thousand miles from one‟s home than after driving a thousand yards. One of the most important arguments against the VMT-based fatality rate is the justified criticism of VMT inflation. VMT values can easily be inflated to arrive at a low fatality rate, since, unlike fatality, VMT is an estimated, not a measured, quantity.

Texas Proofing of Vehicles
Ideally, we would like to reduce, if not completely eliminate, fatalities on our highways. We know that the higher the speed at which one travels the higher the (kinetic) energy that must be absorbed when a crash does occur. The laws of physics teach us that the kinetic energy K of an object (the energy possessed by an object by virtue of its motion) increases as the square of the speed, K = ½ mv2 where m is the mass of the object and v its speed. (The symbol v is used in physics to denote velocity, which is speed in a given direction.) This means that the energy that must be absorbed in a crash occurring when a vehicle is traveling at 65 mph has increased by 40%, at 70 mph it has increased by 62%, and so on, see Figure 1. At 80 mph, the current speed limit in Texas and Utah, it has increased by 112% and at 85 mph, the limit that the Texas legislature is pushing, it has increased by 139%. In other words, vehicle design and engineering must adjust to these new realities of the increased desire by drivers in Texas or Utah or Montana to drive at much higher speeds than elsewhere in the nation. Very soon, car manufacturers must “Texas-proof” the cars they sell. Just imagine the ad campaign, with the label Texas Proof stamped to a pickup or SUV, like we
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have liquors that have higher and higher “proof” numbers depending on their alcohol content!

Figure 1: Graph indicating the increase in the relative amounts of energy that must be absorbed in a crash with increasing speed of the vehicle. If the kinetic energy of a vehicle traveling at 55 mph is set at 100, its kinetic energy is 140 at 65 mph (40% increase) and 162 at 70 mph (62% increase) and so on. At 80 mph, the current speed limit in Texas, the energy that must be absorbed has more than doubled (112% increase). At 85 mph, which is the limit being pushed by Texas legislature, the energy that must be absorbed has increased by 139% compared to the energy that must be absorbed when the same vehicle is traveling at 55 mph.


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We also know, from overwhelming statistical data, that speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes and the resulting fatalities. There are three types of crashes: fatal, injury (i.e., non fatal) and property damage only. Crash data compiled annually by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), suggest that speeding was a factor in 30% of all fatal crashes, as highlighted in the following reports. Traffic Safety Facts: 2007 Data DOT HS 810 998 Traffic Safety Facts: 2004 Data DOT HS 809 915 Traffic Safety Facts 2009 Furthermore, as we see from the above, speeding is usually also a factor in alcohol-related fatal crashes. It is also a factor in more than 34% of fatal crashes that occur on wet roads (rain), in 55% of fatal crashes under snowy conditions and over 57% of fatal crashes under icy conditions. Also, it should be noted that speeding-related fatal crashes occur on both interstates and non-interstate roads, under all types of posted speed limits, from ≤ 35 mph to ≥ 55 mph. Given these facts, it would seem that the recent attempts to increase the speed limits on our highways are misguided. It should be noted, however, that a number of very reasonable arguments are made by proponents of the no speed limit laws. This is an unending debate, which pits individual freedom against perceived societal good. Attention is called to some of the pros and cons cited by both sides, briefly, in appendix 1. According to NHTSA, traffic fatalities in 2010 have dropped to their lowest levels in recorded history.
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Between 2009 and 2010, the number of traffic fatalities fell nearly 3%, from 33,808 to 32,788. Fatalities have dropped 25 percent since 2005, from a total of 43,510 fatalities in that year. Statistical projections indicate that the fatality rate will be the lowest on record since 1949, with 1.09 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, down from 1.13 for 2009. This decrease in fatalities for 2010 occurred despite an estimated increase of nearly 21 billion miles in nationwide vehicle miles traveled. It would be tragic if this momentous trend is reversed with the recent attempts to increase the speed limits on our highways. The significance of these historical trends in fatality data were discussed in detail in the first part of this article, see link below, Does Speed Kill? Forgotten Facts of US Highway Deaths in 1950s and 1960s. Between 1965 and 1966, public pressure grew in the US to increase the safety of cars. The deaths on US highways had been increasing year after year. In 1966 Congress held a series of highly publicized hearings on highway safety. This led to the legislation for mandatory installation of seat belts, which also created the US Department of Transportation (on Oct 15, 1966). As President Lyndon B. Johnson stated at the signing of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act on September 9, 1966, " ... we have tolerated a raging epidemic of highway death ... which has killed more of our youth than all other diseases combined. Through the Highway Safety Act, we are going to find out more about highway disease—and we aim to cure it." Accordingly, the main purpose here is to take a fresh look at the traffic fatality data, especially the data from Iowa, Montana that has been prominently by both proponents and opponents in this speed limit debate. A significant increase in fatalities was observed in Iowa, after the speed limit was raised on rural interstates to 65 mph in May 1987 and also when it
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was raised once again, to 70 mph, in July 2005, see link given above. Indeed, according to this study, all the Midwestern US states that increased the speed limits (to 65 mph) showed an increase in fatalities ranging from 7 to 13 percent (see extract from above report in appendix 1). In Montana, on the other hand, the number of fatalities dropped dramatically immediately after the reasonable and prudent (i.e., no numerical limit) law was adopted. Does the traffic fatality data, recorded immediately before and after the changes, warrant the conclusions drawn? Is there indeed a correlation between posted speed limits, and/or raising or lowering them, and the traffic fatalities? This is the question that we would like to answer, using a reliable scientific approach. In what follows here, a new methodology is described, which is based on the analysis of both the number of traffic fatalities (F) and the number fatal crashes (C) recorded over the years. The merits of this approach will become obvious when we reconsider the Iowa and Montana traffic fatality data for the past several decades. The benefits of decreasing the speed limit (to just 35 mph) in Utah, during the war years, were unequivocal. The only county, where fatalities increased, seems to have been the county with chronic speeders.

1940 - 1949 / War Speed Limit On October 28, 1942, a War Speed Limit of 35 mph came into effect in an attempt to conserve gasoline and save on tires. Enforcement began on November 10, 1942. Many cars were operating with unsafe tires because people were unable to buy new tires. With the implementation of the War Speed Limit of 35 mph, Patrolman Russ Cederlund was featured on the cover of the November 1942 issue of Public Safety, a national magazine devoted to promoting public safety. Patrolman Cederlund and Matt Haslam of the state road shop are shown replacing a 50 mph sign with a 35 mph sign. Because all of Utah’s 40, 50 and 60 mph signs were reflectorized, all of these signs had to be replaced. The old signs were stored in anticipation that the speed limit would be raised following the war. Despite a 5 percent increase in motor vehicles in Utah from 1941 to 1943, Utah had a significant decrease in accidents, injuries, and fatalities. The following chart represents this decrease:


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Although vehicle miles traveled decreased 11 percent, fatal accidents in Utah decreased by 50 percent, the ninth lowest in the United States. Utah was the only state in the nation with an increase in motor vehicle registrations during this period of time. The only area of the state which showed an increase in fatal accidents was Utah County. Colonel Pete Dow immediately transferred two patrolmen from the southern district to assist the Utah County personnel in slowing down the many "chronic speeders" in Utah County.

Data available for scientific analysis
The following three pieces of pertinent data are readily available from various sources on the Internet and can be used in a scientific analysis of the effect of increasing speed limits on the number of fatalities in our roadways. This also highlights areas where improvements are needed in our data collection and/or organization.  Number of Fatalities, F  Number of fatal crashes, C  Fatality rates (based on VMT)


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However, if one wishes to seriously study the effect of increasing the (legal) speed limits, which is usually restricted to interstate highways, it is important to look at these three numbers ONLY as they apply to rural and urban interstates. Fatality and crash data on other types of roadways are less relevant. For example, the following F and C data is readily available for Texas at the TxDOT website. However, corresponding values of the VMT, for rural and urban driving, is not available. This is the single most important shortcoming in data reporting (both state and nationwide). Table 1A: Texas Interstate Traffic Fatalities-Crashes Data (2003-2009)

Rural, C Rural, F Urban, C Urban, F

2003 2004
218 259 279 327 188 238 284 321

221 292 285 319

206 242 272 286

149 178 306 338

174 212 270 300

130 150 236 250

Only fatal crashes and fatalities occurring on interstate highways are included here. Source: Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics

In many cases, only fatalities (F) are reported without recording the corresponding number of crashes (C), see data for Alabama, given below. Fatalities in urban areas are generally lower than in rural areas, see Alabama data, because crowded driving promotes greater alertness and caution. Rural driving, with reduced traffic, on the other hand, promotes inattentiveness, tendency to dose off and/or veer off the road and also risk taking at super high speeds. The Texas data, however, defy this logic. Table 1B: Fatalities in Alabama Interstates (1998-2007) Year 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Total 1023 1028 1118 1110 1033 1040 1082 1113 1142 1190 Rural 634 665 754 742 661 722 727 749 757 772 Urban 389 363 364 368 372 318 355 364 385 418 Source: 1997 ALABAMA TRAFFIC ACCIDENT FACTS. Note that information on the corresponding fatal crashes or the fatality rates (interstate VMT) is missing.
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Also, methods must be developed to improve VMT estimates, specifically as it applies to interstate highways, to avoid the criticism of VMT inflation/or deflation, to arrive at a desired fatality rate. With these caveats, we will now take a fresh look at the fatality data in three states: Iowa, Montana, and Texas, because of some unique aspects of the data and all because this data has also been analyzed before by other authors. Before we proceed, let us quickly review the Utah war-years data since this reveals an important property of traffic fatality statistics.

Figure 2: Graph of accidents versus fatalities in Utah during the war years when the war speed limit of 35 mph was adopted in the state. The number of fatalities appears to increase at a fixed rate as the number of accidents increase. Here ―accidents‖ includes all types – not just those that led to a fatality. The slope of the straight line through the three points can be estimated using classical linear
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regression analysis. However, here we use the average value of the three slopes obtained by consider any two of the three points in the data set. This average slope h = 0.0475. (The slope of the best-fit line h = 0.478.) Since the straight line must pass through all three points, the intercept c can be fixed by considering any one data point. The equation of the straight line is y = hx + c and considering the (x, y) values for 1942 we get c = - 86.23. This line can be seen to pass very close to the (x, y) pairs for 1941 and 1943. Notice that the both the VMT, x, and the number of fatalities, y, decreased during the war years. The fatality rate, determined by the ratio y/x, also decreased each year, from 13.58 in 1941 to 9.83 in 1942 and to 7.6 in 1943. The fatalities/accidents ratio also decreased from 0.034 to 0.03 to 0.026. The average value of this latter ratio is 0.0301. The x-y graph, of accidents versus fatalities, reveals a nice linear trend, see Figure 2, with the three data points falling almost on a perfect straight line. The equation of this line is of the type y = hx + c = 0.0475x – 86.23, where the numerical values of the slope h and intercept c were determined as described in more detail in the figure caption. The fixed slope h = 0.0475 means that fatalities increase at a constant rate as the number of accidents increase: we expect 475 additional fatalities per 10,000 additional accidents, or about 5 additional fatalities per 100 additional accidents. (The graph of VMT versus fatalities, on the other hand, does NOT reveal such a nice linearity.) The near-perfect linear trend observed in the war-years is almost certainly due to the low speed limit. Vehicles of this era were obviously built very differently from modern vehicles and had few safety features (not even good tires, as noted in the article cited). Even a collision at a low speed led to fatalities. However, even today, fatalities are observed at all speeds in our roadways; see, for example, the annual Traffic Safety Facts 2009 by NHTSA, link below, Tables 59 and 60 and Figure 24, even at ≤ 30 mph. The greater predictability in the war-years data is certainly due to less variability in road and driving conditions. It also suggests that the universal
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law describing the relation between the number of accidents and the number of fatalities is a simple linear law, y = hx + c where x is the number of accidents (or fatal crashes) and y is the number of fatalities. As we will see shortly this universal law appears to be confirmed when we consider the more recent data for the states of Iowa, Kansas, Montana, and Texas. From the nature of the trends observed, there is little doubt that the same would also be confirmed if we consider the data for every state and also the national data, or even international data from other countries. This linear law was already alluded to in the earlier report (see conclusions and also discussion of Figure 4 in that first report). Finally, when we consider all types of accidents, or crashes (which includes those resulting in injuries only and property damage only), the constant h, as we see here for Utah, has a very low value (less than 1, or even 0.10, ≈ 0.05). Its value cannot be predicted theoretically. However, if we consider only fatal crashes, and the law y = hx + c still applies, the slope h = 1, ideally, since a single crash must produce one fatality, 2 crashes 2 fatalities, and so on. Also, ideally, the constant c = 0, since the number of fatalities y must go to zero as the number of crashes x goes to zero.

Fatal crashes at County Level If we consider data at the county level, for example, in 2009, in Michigan, there were 2 fatal crashes and exactly 2 fatalities in Manistee county, i.e., (C, F) = (2, 2). In Alcona it was (3, 3), Isabella (9, 9), Jackson (12, 12). In other counties, there were more fatalities per fatal crash. Example Macomb (37, 41), Oakland (51, 53), Wayne (149, 173). For the state as a whole it was (806, 871). http://www.michigantrafficcr 2.pdf . For the US a whole, it was (30,797, 33,808) in 2009.

In the real world, h > 1, see sidebar, and the greater the deviation from 1, the higher the rate at which fatalities increase due to a variety of factors (speed limits, road conditions including weather, type of roadway, vehicle infrastructure, driver behavior, and so on). Also, the constant c will be non-zero and can be either positive or negative.
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Iowa Motor Vehicle Fatalities data
From 1970 to 1974 the speed limit on Iowa rural Interstates was 75 mph. In 1974, following the Arab oil embargo of 1973, a National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL) of 55 mph was imposed and adopted throughout the US (reluctantly by some states). The Iowa speed limit was 55 mph.

Table 2: Fatal Crashes and Fatalities in Iowa
Year Crashes, x (fatal) 38 25 35 41 23 29 20 19 27 19 22 28 15 17 13 13 13 21 Fatalities, y F/C ratio, y/x 1.50 1.24 1.06 1.17 1.04 1.38 1.35 1.11 1.04 1.05 1.36 1.25 1.47 1.24 1.15 1.38 1.08 1.10 1.23 35 23 14 43 28 17 At 75/65 mph At 55 mph At 55 mph Comments on speed limits 75 mph day and 65 mph speed limit at night. NMSL takes effect in 1974 I speed limit 55 mph until 1986.

1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 Average

57 31 37 48 24 40 27 21 28 20 30 35 22 21 15 18 14 23

Up 65 mph on May 12, 1987

Last 4-yr. avg. First 4-yr avg. Last 4-yr avg.

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In 1987 the NMSL was partially repealed and speed limits were allowed to increase to 65 mph. In 1995, the NMSL was fully repealed and each state could set its own speed limit. In 2005, Iowa increased its rural interstate speed limit to 70 mph.

Table 3: Fatal Crashes and Fatalities in Iowa
Year Crashes, x (fatal) 28 26 23 25 25 29 26 19 20 29 25 32 35 30 22 24 16 38 25.53 26 23 Fatalities, y F/C ratio, y/x 1.25 1.08 1.17 1.28 1.16 1.17 1.38 1.37 1.50 1.10 1.36 1.19 1.17 1.30 1.14 1.58 1.44 1.24 1.27 At 65 mph At 65 mph Comments on speed limits Speed limit was 65 mph from 1988 to 2004 on all rural Interstates I in Iowa

1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Average

35 28 27 32 29 34 36 26 30 32 34 38 41 39 25 38 23 47 32.2 31 31

70 mph on July 1, 2005

First 4-yr avg. Last 4-yr avg.

The fatality-crashes data for the period 1970-1987 and for 1988-2005 are reproduced in Tables 2 and 3 were obtained from a report released by Iowa Department of Transportation, see links given below.
IoKsMTxStudy Page 17 of 60 Impact of Raising Speed Limits onTraffic Safety, by Arup Datta and David A. Noyce Let us first consider the data for the more recent period, 1988-2005, in Table 3. The authors of the above report compared the fatalities after the speed limit was increased on July 1, 2005 with the average fatalities in the first and last four year periods (1988-1991) and (2001-2004), see last two rows, before the increase. An average of 26 crashes, with an average of 31 fatalities, were observed during the first-four year period at 65 mph. Fewer crashes, 23, with exactly the same average number of fatalities were observed in the last-four year period of the 65 mph era. The number of fatal crashes and fatalities jumped to 38 and 47, respectively, when the speed limit was raised to 70 mph. Can we now say, unequivocally, based on these four-year-average-fatality calculations, that the jump in 2005 was entirely due to the higher speed limit? Or, are there other factors, besides the increased speed limit, that must be considered to assess this situation? Or, consider the situation before the adoption of the NMSL of 55 mph. In the last-four year period (1970-1973) before the NMSL, the average crashes and fatalities were 35 and 43, respectively. In the first four-year period after adoption of 55 mph, the number of crashes had dropped to 23 and the fatalities had dropped to just 28. Was this again entirely the result of the lower 55 mph speed limit? Likewise, in the last-four year period (1983-1986) of the 55 mph speed limit, the average number of crashes and fatalities had dropped even more to 14 and 17, respectively. Was this again the beneficial effect of the 55 mph speed limit over a long and sustained period? It then increased again in 1987, after the partial repeal of NMSL. A careful examination of all of the data in Tables 2 and 3, at both the 65 and 55 mph speed limits, suggests the following.
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1. The number of fatalities, y, is always greater than the number of crashes, x. By definition, a fatal crash is a crash where there is at least one death. Often, however, more than one person dies when there is a fatal accident. The fatalities/crashes ratio F/C ratio, or y/x, is always greater than 1.0. This is indicated in the calculations in the fourth column. The average value of the F/C ratio, or y/x ratio, is 1.27 in the more recent period (1988-2005) and 1.23 in the earlier era (1970-1987). 2. The higher the number of crashes the higher the number of fatalities. Considering the period 1988-2005, Table 3, with 20 crashes, there were 30 fatalities. With 30 crashes, there were 39 fatalities. With 25 crashes, there were only 34 fatalities. With 35 crashes, there were 41 fatalities. And so on. This suggests that the x-y scatter graph must have a nice upward trend. The data here suggests that with x = 10, y = 9, and the rate of change h = y/x = 9/10 = 0.9. Many such values of the slope h can be calculated and an average determined. The classical statistical method, known as linear regression analysis (also called least squares method), permits a determination of the slope of the so-called best-fit line through many such (x, y) pairs. The graphical representation of the fatalities-crashes data from Table 3 indeed reveals a nice upward trend, see Figure 3. The best-fit line through the data points has the equation y = hx + c = 1.215x + 0.118 where the slope h = 1.215 and the intercept c = 0.118. Ideally, the intercept c = 0 since we know that y = 0 when x = 0, i.e., when the number of crashes goes to zero, the number of fatalities must also be zero. The small positive value of the intercept is the result of statistical variations (see also the brief discussion in appendix 1 on this point). Many factors besides being in a crash determine if the occupant will actually die – age and prior health also being significant factors that cannot be overlooked. Also, the rapid access to emergency medical services (EMS) determines whether a severely injured occupant can survive. Furthermore, the age and condition of the vehicle and how well it is maintained (apart from the basic manufacturer‟s vehicle design and engineering) could be contributing factors that make a
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bad situation worse in the event of a crash. All such factors introduce statistical “noise” and affect the numerical value of the constant c in the linear law y = hx + c revealed here. Notice also that the slope of the best-fit line h = 1.215 is comparable to the average slope h = 1.23 determined from the seventeen values of the y/x ratio in Table 2. Indeed, it can be shown that as the number of data points increases, the average slope h would ultimately tend asymptotically to the value determined using the linear regression analysis.

Figure 3: Graphical representation of the fatalities-crashes data for the period (1970-1987). A nice upward trend is revealed here which simply means that the higher the number of (fatal) crashes, the higher the number of fatalities. The classical statistical method known as linear regression analysis yields the best-fit equation y = 1.215x + 0.118. The correlation coefficient r 2 = 0.831 implies a
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strong positive correlation between the variables x and y considered here. One can now extrapolate using this equation to predict the number of fatalities with higher or lower number of crashes, x. This also permits an unbiased assessment of the effect of increased speed limits on our highways. The best-fit equation can be used to predict the number of fatalities for 35 crashes, the average number of crashes in the last-four year period (1970-1973) before the adoption of the NSML of 55 mph. It can also be used to predict the number of fatalities immediately following the repeal of the NSML and the new higher speed limit. Amazingly, for x = 35, the best-fit prediction yb = 42.64 or 43 fatalities, exactly what was calculated in the earlier report. Also, for x = 21, yb = 25.63 or 26 fatalities. The actual number of fatalities observed after the partial repeal of the NSML in May 1987 was just 21. Since the number of fatalities will increase or decrease, as the number of crashes increase or decrease, we can estimate the number of fatalities by simply extrapolating from the best-fit line. Predictions of the number of fatalities based using the best-equation suggest that the higher fatalities observed in the four-year period, before the adoption of the NSML of 55 mph, and in the year immediately after its partial repeal in 1987, are consistent with the predictions of the best-fit equation for the period when the speed limit was 55 mph. The number of fatalities increased in 1987, and again in 2005, because the number of fatal crashes also increased. The increase in fatalities is consistent with the predictions based on an extrapolation from the best-fit equation deduced for the 55 mph era. Thus, it is clear that the higher speed limits in 1970-73, or in 1987, did not play any statistically significant role. This is confirmed by the graphical representation of the pre-NSML data (with speeds limits of 75/65 day/night) and 1987 data following the partial repeal of NSML in 1987 (65 mph). The five solid dots in Figure 4 represent this data and are simply superimposed on to the earlier plot of Figure 3. With just one exception, (38, 57) for the year 1970, the other four data points lie on or very close to the best-fit line deduced from the analysis of the data for the 55 mph speed limit. This implies that the universal law y =
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hx + c holds at all speed limits and the number of fatalities y increase or decrease as the number of crashes x increase or decrease. The higher fatalities observed after the speed limit was increased are not significantly higher than the fatalities that would have been observed, at the lower speed limit. Hence, the speed limit per se does not affect the number of fatalities and is not a significant contributing factor.

Figure 4: Graphical representation of the fatalities-crashes data for the period 1970-1987. The five solid dots represent the data for the four years prior to NSML (1970-1973) and the single year following the partial repeal of NSML (1987). Four out of five data points fall at or close to the best-fit line deduced by considering only the data for the NSML era. This means that the speed limits per se do not affect the number of fatalities observed here, or account for the increased number of fatalities. We are merely observing the universal law y = hx + c with fatalities increasing as the number of (fatal) crashes increase. Factors other than the speed
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limit are probably the reason for the higher number of fatalities observed in 1970 and can be investigated to arrive an improved understanding of this problem. The reason why the 1970 data point (38, 57), at the higher speed limits (75/65) appears as an outlier on this graph certainly needs further investigation. The higher fatalities in this instance are most likely due to factors unrelated to the speed limit per se, some of which have been mentioned briefly already. Notice also that for the year 2005, when higher speed limits (70 mph) were again introduced, 38 crashes produced 47 fatalities, see Table 3, and also the data graphed in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Graph of the Iowa fatalities-crashes data for 1988-2005. The average value of the F/C ratio for these years is 1.273. A linear regression analysis can once again be carried out to determine the best-fit line through the data points. This is presented in Figure 5. Instead, here we first consider first the dashed line
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with the equation y = 1.273x with the slope being the average value just determined. This passes through the origin (0,0) and the data can be seen to follow this line quite closely, with some scatter. Quite amazingly, the data point (38, 47) for 2005, at the higher speed limit, falls almost exactly on this line, suggesting that the higher fatalities observed in 2005 were due entirely to the higher number of crashes and not the increase in the speed limit. Consider now the best-fit line through the points in Table 3, see Figure 6. Once again, we see that the data for 2005, when the speed limit was 70 mph, follows the extrapolated best-fit line, and falls just above it. Some additional comments are relegated to appendix 2.

Figure 6: Graph of the Iowa fatalities-crashes data for 1988-2005, with the best-fit line y = 0.908x + 8.99, through the data points. The best-fit line has a finite positive intercept c = 8.99 which means that when crashes x = 0, there is still a
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finite number of fatalities y = 9 (whole number). Also, the slope of the best-line h = 0.908 is less than 1 whereas all observations indicate that the F/C ratio > 1. (This is also true if we consider data from other states and for the US a whole. The F/C ratio is always greater than 1.) However, the statistical basis of linear regression analysis is a very sound one and this suggests that factors other than just the increased speed limit must be carefully considered to understand the difference between the two sets of data. In both cases, the increase in the number of crashes and led to the increase in the number of fatalities but the circumstances surrounding these crashes, and hence the number of fatalities must also be considered more carefully. Nonetheless, the effect of increased number of crashes, as opposed to the speed limit per se, is evident even if we use the best-fit line to extrapolate to determine the number of fatalities.

Finally, for completeness, the composite graph which includes all the data from Table 2 and 3, for 1970-2005, is presented in Figures 7 and 8. The different data symbols represent data for different speed limits. The dashed line, in Figure 8, with the equation y = 1.25x has a slope h = 1.25, which is the “average” value of the slope for the two data sets in Tables 2 and 3. The best-fit line through the data points was also recalculated. The slope h = 1.200 is higher, see Figure 8, representing the influence of the data from all the speed limits. More importantly, the intercept c is now very nearly zero, having just a small positive value of c = 1.02. All the data points, from all the different speed limits are scattered around this recalculated best-fit line suggesting no significant effect of the speed limit per se. The number of fatalities increased because the number of (fatal) crashes increased. Hence, rather than being distracted by the divisive debate regarding the speed limit, we should focus on understanding the reasons why a crash, especially a fatal crash occurs and develop control strategies to either minimize or eliminate such crashes.


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Figure 7: Composite plot of all the Iowa fatality data for 1970-2005, confirming the linear law y = hx + c. Different symbols are used to denote data generated during the years with different speed limits. A significant positive deviation of an individual data point from the best-fit line, or the line with the ―average‖ slope h = 1.23, implies that special factors that led to increased fatalities in that year need more careful investigation. Fewer crashes actually led to more fatalities in that year, even with the same speed limits prevailing.

This does NOT imply that higher speed limits are of NO consequence and must be whole heartedly embraced. It only means that we must understand the underlying reasons why a fatal crash occur, with the high speed limit being just one of many contributing factors.


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Figure 8: Composite plot of the Iowa fatality data for the years 1970-2005. The solid line with the slope h = 1.20 is the recalculated best-fit line. This has a very small positive intercept c = 1.02. The dashed line has the ―average‖ slope h = 1.23 considering both data sets from Tables 2 and 3.

One important factor that continues to be important, in spite of the strict seat belt laws enacted in practically all states, is the very high correlation between fatality and the failure to use seat belts. Perhaps, manufacturers should be required to ensure that seat belts are automatically deployed and the vehicle made inoperative when seat belts are not used – not only by the driver but also by every single passenger – just as we have sensors that tell us when any single door is not properly secured/closed.
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The Montana No Speed Limit Safety Paradox A typical speed limit sign at the Montana state line from December 1995 to June 1999. On March 10, 1996 a Montana patrolman issued a speeding ticket to a driver traveling at 85 mph (136 kmph), on a stretch of State Highway 200. Although the officer gave no opinion as what would have been a reasonable speed limit, the driver was convicted. He appealed to the Montana Supreme Court. The court reversed the conviction on December 23, 1998. It held that the law requiring drivers to drive at a non-numerical ―reasonable and proper‖ speed limit is so vague that it violates the Due Process Clause … of the Montana Constitution. Effective May 28, 1999, the Montana Legislature therefore established a speed limit of 75 mph (121 kmph). Technically speaking, Montana had no speed limit until June 1999.
IoKsMTxStudy Page 28 of 60 The data and findings given below, including the highlighted tables, are extracted verbatim from the article by Chad Dornsife (link above).
Interstates: 4 Lane Divided 1998: No Daytime Speed Limits
Jan 4 Feb 0 Mar 2 Apr 4 May 5 June 1 July 5 Aug 4 Sep 0 Oct 1 Nov 3 Dec 2

Jan - June Average Month: 2.7
1999: No Daytime Speed Limits Jan 2 Feb 2 Mar 4 Apr 2 May 1 June 0

July - Dec Average Month: 2.5
75 Maximum Speed Limit July 2 Aug 7 Sep 4 Oct 1 Nov 1 Dec 4

Jan - May Average Month: 2.2
2000: 75 Maximum Speed Limit Jan 4 Feb 2 Mar 8 Apr 5 May 2 June 7

June - Dec Average Month: 2.7

July 7

Aug 3

Sep 4

Oct 1

Nov 6

Dec 7

Jan - May Average Month: 4.7
Last 12 months/No Daytime Limits 27 Fatals / Modern Low

June - Dec Average Month: 4.7
2000: W/Speed Limits Reinstated 56 Fatals / Modern High

Here is what the Montana data shows (chart below). After all the politically correct safety programs were in place and fully operational, complete with federal safety funds, more laws and citations being issued, here are the results.
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1. After the new Speed Limits were established, interstates fatal accidents went up 111%. From a modern low of 27 (11 + 16 for June 1998 –May 1999) with no daytime limits, to a new high of 56 (28+28 in 2000) fatal accidents with speed limits. 2. On interstates and federal primary highways combined, Montana went from a modern low of 101 with no daytime limits, to a new high of 143 fatal accidents with speed limits. 3. After a 6 year downward trend in the percentage of multiple vehicle accidents on its 2 lane primary highways, multiple vehicle accident rates increased again. 4. With the expectation of higher speed when there was no daytime limit, Montana’s seat belt usage was well above the national average on its highways without a primary law, lane and road courtesy increased, speeds remained relatively stable and fatal accidents dropped to a modern low. After the new limits, fatal accidents climbed to a modern high on these classifications of highway, road courtesy decreased and flow conflict accidents rose again. All the important observations made in original research paper remain very germane in regards to this doubling of fatal accidents on Montana’s highways. (February 2000, Montana: No Speed Limit Safety Paradox) The following excerpts tell the story. “Research scientists and engineers have long known that there are sometimes unexpected results from changes in public policies. Ironically, the paradox of no posted speed limits and low fatal accidents rates is no surprise to the traffic safety engineering community.” End of verbatim quote from Dornsife.

1996, Officer Steve Wisniewski.
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Counterpoint: The tabulated data from Dornsife supports point 1 above. The same data also permit a different interpretation. Consider the nonconsecutive periods of Jan-June 1998 and June-Dec 1999. Between JanJune 1998, when there was no daytime speed limit in Montana, the total fatalities was 16 and the 6-month average was 2.7 (16/6 ≈ 2.7 ), the same as the average for the 7-month period (19/7 ≈ 2.7) from June-Dec 1999, when the 75 mph speed limit was imposed. In other words, there is NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGE in the monthly average fatalities. State data from NHTSA: The following data was obtained from the NHTSA annual reports entitled Traffic Safety Facts. For 1998, Table 106 of page 160 indicates that there were 30 fatal crashes in rural interstates in Montana and 0 fatal crashes in urban interstates. The total fatal crashes and fatalities (Table 104) were 208 and 237, respectively, including all types of roadways. Montana Rural and Urban Interstates Fatalities-Crash data Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Rural crashes 50 30 35 30 35 48 43 37 Urban crashes 1 0 1 4 2 0 0 1 Rural fatalities 58 33 41 33 40 59 47 40 Urban fatalities 1 0 1 4 2 0 0 1

Source: NHTSA Annual Reports, Chapter 5. Notice the huge contrast with Texas. For 1997, Table 106 of page 154 states that there were 50 fatal crashes in rural interstates in Montana and 1 fatal crash in urban interstates. The total fatal crashes and fatalities (Table 104) were 223 and 265, respectively, including all types of roadways. The information on fatalities in the rural and urban interstates was similarly obtained from accompanying tables.
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Notice the big difference in the number of rural interstate fatal crashes, 50 and 30, for 1997 and 1998, both years for which Montana had the Reasonable and Prudent speed law. The corresponding fatalities were 58 and 33. In other words, such large year-to-year variability, or even month-to-month variability, in the data is expected and does not necessarily have anything to do with the speed limit. The jump for 27 to 56 fatalities, between 1999 and 2000, as noted by Dornsife, is nothing out of the ordinary.

Figure 9: Fatalities-Crashes data for Montana (1997-2004) obtained from the annual NHTSA Traffic Safety Reports (chapter 5). For 1997 and 1998, Montana had the Reasonable and Prudent (R & P) speed law. The data points (51, 59) and
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(30, 33) for these two years is indicated by the two filled diamonds. The equation of the straight line joining these two points is y = hx + c = 1.24x – 4.14. All the other data (solid dots) are with the 75 mph speed limit. The fatalities data after the introduction of a numerical speed limit follows this straight line (deduced with the R & P speed law). Fatalities increase as the number of crashes increase. Notice also the very large change in the number of fatal crashes in the two years with the R & P speed law.

Figure 10: Montana statewide fatalities-crashes data for the most recent period 1994-2009. The NSML was fully repealed in 1995. Notice that the same universal relation is revealed. Furthermore the numerical value of the constant h in the relation y = hx + c also appears to be roughly constant when we consider


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fatalities-crashes data for rural and urban interstates (Figure 9) or all roadways taken together. Finally, as seen in Figures 10 and 11, the universal fatalities-crashes law is also confirmed when we consider the Montana fatalities data for all roadways for the recent period 1994-2009 (after the repeal of NSML in 1995 and the R&P law in 1999) and also the earlier period 1978-2009, with NSML. The data for all these periods follows a nice linear trend, suggesting again that speed limits per se do not affect the number of fatalities. The number of fatalities only seems to depend on the number of crashes.

Figure 11: The statewide Montana fatality-crash data for the period 1978-2009, with different speed limits. All data, regardless of the prevailing speed limit follow the same straight line y = hx = 1.142x where the slope h of the straight line is taken as the average value of the F/C ratio for all the years taken together.
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Figure 12: The Montana data for the period 1978-2009 with the best-fit line superimposed on to the data along with the straight line with a slope equal to the the “average” value of the fatalities/crashes = F/C ratio. This is called the “average” slope line. This average slope h = 1.142 is very nearly equal to the ratio m = ym /xm = 241/211 = 1.142 where xm and ym are the average values of x and y. Both these lines, the one with the “average” slope and the best-fit line always passes through the point (xm,ym). The line with average slope (ym/xm) passes through the origin whereas the best-fit line pivots about the point (xm,ym) and makes a finite positive or negative intercept on the y-axis. This pivoting of the best-fit line occurs because, mathematically, the best-fit is an attempt to minimize the squares of the vertical deviations (y – yb) of each data point from the best-fit trend line; see also the discussion in appendix 1.


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Additional comments on the Montana data
Montana DOT data: The following information was obtained from the report by Montana DOT, see link below, which provides the fatalities and crash data for the 10-yr period 1997-2006. According to the data in Table 1, the total number of fatalities was exactly the same, 237, in 1997, with R & P speed law, and also in 2000, when the speed limit was 75 mph. eport.pdf

Montana’s scenery. Photo of Butte, MT provided by driving enthusiast John Watne, Montanabahn vs Autobahn The higher fatality number for 2000 given here is because fatalities in all roadways is included, not just the fatalities on the Interstates. There were 208 fatal crashes in 1997 and 203 fatal crashes in 2000 but the 5 fewer crashes in 2000 still produced the same total fatalities.


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Also, from Table 3 of this report, we see that the fatality rate (per 100 M VMT) was actually higher in 1997 (2.84) and 1998 (2.50), with no numerical speed limit, compared to 2000 (2.40) suggesting a beneficial effect of the speed limit. The above, from 1997 Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, includes brief comments following the debate in the Montana legislature on the speed limit. One lawmaker argued that a limit is need because traffic deaths on Montana's interstates doubled from 1995 to 1996: from 16 to 32. Added Attorney General Joe Mazurek: ''I'm glad the Senate debated it, but I can't help but ask: How many people have to die before we need a speed limit?'' a+1997+interstate+fatalities&hl=en&ei=HLjpTYCdIuru0gGAn5WgAQ&sa=X &oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage& q=montana%201997%20interstate%20fatalities&f=false Montana: The Great Experiment by Kevin Atkinson. The second link above gives the % of drivers exceeding various speeds when there was no numerical speed limit is Montana. In Urban Interstates, only 5% exceeded 75 mph and none exceeded 80 mph. In rural interstates, 8% exceeded 75 mph and less than 3% exceeded 80 mph and under 1% exceeded 85 mph.


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The Texas Interstate Traffic Fatalities-Crashes

Letter: Don't reward lawbreakers with higher speed limits
Posted April 15, 2011 at 5:51 p.m
Why on earth are we raising our speed limits in Texas? It is a proven fact that lower speed limits at around 55 mph make most cars get better gas mileage. We should be lowering them, not raising them……………… ******************************************************************************

As we see from Table 1A and Table 1B, urban fatalities in Texas are significantly higher than rural fatalities. Is this due to the much publicized higher speed limits in Texas? However, if we look at the pattern so far, this may be simply be due to the higher number of urban crashes in Texas. The linear law, y = hx + c, relating crashes and fatalities applies for both sets of data, see Figure 13. Also, and interestingly also, extrapolating to higher number of crashes using the rural best-fit line, it is clear that the number of urban fatalities in Texas is indeed significantly lower. Alternatively, extrapolating from the urban best-fit line shows that the number of rural fatalities is significantly higher. This suggests a more careful study of the nature of crashes in these sections of the Texas interstates and also the emergency responses available to crash victims.
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Figure 13: Graph of fatal crashes versus fatalities in rural and urban Interstates in Texas. The data reveals a very high positive correlation between crashes, x, and fatalities, y, with a high +ve value of the correlation coefficient r 2. Texas Motor Vehicle Crash Statistics – 2009 2009 l 2008 l 2007 l 2006 l 2005 l 2004 l 2003

Furthermore, and even more significantly, we see that the best-fit line has a negative intercept c for both rural and urban data. Theoretically speaking, when the number of crashes goes to zero (x = 0), the number of fatalities must also go to zero (y = 0). Hence, the ideal value of the constant c = 0


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and the best-fit line must pass through the origin. However, as we see here, in the real world the intercept c is sometimes positive (as in the data for Iowa, this means higher fatalities than should be theoretically achieved, for the number of crashes) and sometimes negative, as we see here for Texas. This actually means that the number of fatalities in both rural and urban interstates is less than what might be observed if c = 0. The data for Montana reveals the nearly ideal situation (c ≈ 0), with the intercept c having a very small positive value. However, the Texas data shows that even further reductions in fatalities are responsible. Additional discussion of the significance of the constant c in the linear law, y = hx + c, relating crashes and fatalities, is relegated to appendix 1.

Selection of Iowa statewide crash-fatality data at various speed limits
Year 1970 1973 1975 1976 1986 1989 1993 1995 1997 2005 2006 2009 Average Speed limit, mph 75 75 55 55 55 65 65 65 65 70 70 70 Fatal Crashes, x 752 682 578 663 388 452 399 446 411 399 386 337 491 Fatalities, y 912 813 674 785 441 515 457 527 468 451 439 370 571



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Iowa Statewide Crash Data and Changing Speed Limits
Finally, to illustrate the effect of both the speed limit and the efficacy of the (fatal) crash-fatalities analysis emphasized here, consider the following statewide data for Iowa. The historical data from 1970-2009 has been compiled by the Iowa Department of Transportation and made be found at the link given below. 970-2009_20100706.pdf

Figure 14: Graph of the statewide Iowa fatal crashes-fatality data which covers the 40-year period 1970-2009 when Iowa had four different speed limits: 75 mph (data indicated by filled triangles) in 1970-1973, dropping to 55 mph (filled diamonds)
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on Jan 1, 1974. The speed limit was raised to 65 mph (filled squares) on rural interstates on May 12, 1987. In 1996, the speed limit was raised to 65 mph in rural 4 lane highways and on July 1, 2005 the speed limit was raised to 70 mph (filled circles) on rural interstates. The open circle near the center of the graph is the mean point (xm, ym). The best-fit line passes through this mean point. The data reveals a near-perfect positive correlation with a regression coefficient r2 = 0.999. Perfect correlation would be indicted by r2 = +1.000. The crash-fatality data at different speed limits simply follow this best-fit line. Although only a small selection of the data, extracted in the table here, has been considered, the statewide observations reveal a remarkable trend with near-perfect correlation between the number of fatal crashes and fatalities, even with changing speed limits. The higher the number of fatal crashes, x, the higher is the number of fatalities, y. It appears that exactly the same number of crashes and fatalities might have been observed if there had been no change in the speed limit. However, it must be pointed out that the 40-year data considered here does indicate that the two of the highest crash numbers were observed at the highest speed limit of 75 mph (the two triangles near the top of the graph). Also, the three lowest crash numbers occurred at 70 mph (the filled circles near the bottom of the graph), after the most recent change in the speed limit in July 2005. The 55 mph and 65 mph data fall in the middle. Hence, it appears that instead of entering into a futile debate on the speed limits, greater attention must be paid by traffic researchers and safety experts to understand the conditions and factors that  Lead to a crash in the first place.  Promote survival of the vehicle occupants in the event of a crash and/or minimize their injuries. (Sometimes, unfortunately, third parties, such as pedestrians, bicyclists, etc. are killed in a motor vehicle crash, especially in other third world countries, where a motorist has to combat a variety of other transportation methods.) In addition to the speed limit, and the urgent need to “Texas Proof” vehicles of the future by various manufacturers as speed limits continue to rise,
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ultimately it is the interaction of the following that determines the type of vehicle that will be offered to the consumer in the future. First, there can be no doubt that a lower speed offers more control and ability to avoid a crash in an emergency situation, or when road hazards are encountered unexpectedly (could even something as simple as a sharp bend on the road, which led to a fatal crash recently with a photograph of the crashed vehicle, as highlighted in the earlier report). Second, a manufacturer must consider the interaction of the following:

Speed → Crash → Safety → Weight → Fuel economy
All these factors must be taken together to arrive at a societal compromise which dictates vehicle design and engineering and what is offered to the consumer. The higher the vehicle weight, the lower the fuel economy, although such a heavier vehicle would probably be more crashworthy and promote safety of its occupants in a crash. Safety and crashworthiness are tied to speed which determines the energy that must be absorbed by the vehicle infrastructure. There is also the legal ramification of how much any vehicle manufacturer should be expected to do in terms of vehicle design and engineering to keep a driver in Texas safe, in a crash at 90 mph or 100 mph. Just like CAFÉ standards and emission standards led to the development of all electric (GM‟s EV) and hybrids, rising speed limits will force manufacturers to either rebel and force back such laws, or innovate! There was never a better time to be a materials scientist in charge of developed advanced, high strength and lightweight materials that could be manufactured at a cost lower than dirt. Lighter than air (not quite!) – Stronger than steel - Cheaper than dirt! Does the need to meet CAFÉ standards conflict, from a purely technical standpoint, with the need to keep vehicle occupants safe in Texas? Indeed, the discussion of exactly these factors was the topic of a workshop


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sponsored recently (on Feb 25, 2011) by NHTSA (details included as appendix 2 with links to presentations by various experts). Even in Montana, when the law only specified a “reasonable and prudent” speed, motorists, especially out-of-state motorists, found themselves being ticketed for speeding and failing to obey the reasonable and prudent standard. One such driver challenged his ticket (although convicted) and went to Montana Supreme Court which then agreed that the Montana law was so vague as to be unconstitutional. Lawmakers were therefore forced to adopt the numerical 75 mph speed limit. 80 mph or 90 mph or even 100 mph might seem safe, or reasonable, or even prudent to a few (perhaps, the 15% who always seem to be traveling above the posted speed limit, if one accept the 85th percentile rule to fix the speed limit). However, they still have to share the road with the remaining 85% whose lives cannot be threatened and who must not be put in a dangerous situation to avoid a collision with the happy speedster!

Texas Legislator Pete Gallego unveiling a new 80 mph speed limit sign on Interstate 10 near Fort Stockton, Texas.
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Kansas Speeding-related Crashes-Fatalities
Year Crashes, x Fatalities, y Speed limit Year Crashes, x Fatalities, y Speed limit Year Crashes, x Fatalities, y Speed limit 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 123 103 93 93 91 105 142 118 106 105 101 116 65 65 65 65 65 65 1996 1997 112 99 122 109 70 70

1998 1999 2000 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 113 108 108 106 111 119 112 94 100 123 129 119 113 134 140 127 114 118 70 70 70 70 70 70 70 70 70 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 111 118 70 89 99 70 87 97 70 n/a n/a 70 n/a n/a 70




75 _Facts_Book.pdf Data for 1990-2000 Click on speed to get data for 1998-2008 ****************************************************************** The Kansas legislature recently approved an increase in the speed limit to 75 mph, as reported in the Wichita Eagle on April 4, 2011 (see link below). An officer of the Kansas Highway Patrol thinks this means drivers will be doing 80 or 85 mph. Does it necessarily mean more accidents or more deaths? The data compiled here, however, yields conflicting interpretations. Considering only the speeding-related crashes in Kansas, there were exactly 111 crashes in 2001 and again in 2006 but with 134 fatalities in
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2001 as opposed to only 118 in 2006. The speed limit was the same in both years. On the other hand, 103 crashes in 1991, when the speed limit was 65 mph resulted in 118 fatalities. The same fatalities were reached with just 100 crashes in 2005 when the speed limit was raised to 70 mph. The crashes-fatalities graphs, presented in Figures 15 and 16 again reveal no significant effect of the speed limit. The data for both speed limits clearly overlap and follow the best-fit equation relating crashes x and fatalities y deduced by considering the data for the 70 mph era.

Figure 15: The data for speeding related crashes are readily obtained from the Kansas Department of Transportation website (see links given). As seen here, when the number of crashes x increases, the number of fatalities y increases and seems to follow the predictions based on classical linear regression analysis. The
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linear regression coefficient r2 = 0.698 is quite high. As included is straight line the ―average‖ slope which passes through the mean point (xm, ym). The best-fit line also passes through this point but pivots to either a higher or lower slope depending on the ―scatter‖ in the data. The slope of the best-fit line is determined to minimize the sum of the squares of the vertical deviations of each (x, y) pair in the data set from the best-fit line.

Figure 16: The speeding-related fatalities-crashes data for 1990-1995, indicated by the black solid dots, are superimposed here to the graph in Figure 15. These data are intermingled with the 70 mph data and follow the best-fit line deduced earlier suggesting no statistically significant effect of the increased speed limit on the Kansas speeding-related fatalities, after the repeal of the NSML in 1995.
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Finally, the following comments, posted on the internet by readers of the above news item (on increasing the speed limit in Kansas to 75 mph), are revealing. It starts with the sad statement from the parent of a young 18 year old who was killed in an accident when he was driving at 65 mph. He was not speeding. The current speed limit in Kansas is 70 mph.

Effect of high speeds
The Clutter Cutter
 

My 18 year old son was going 65 mph (NOT speeding) when he crashed on the turnpike and yet speed impacted the severity of his crash (he was killed). When the speed limit is legally raised, I will NOT be driving that fast. All you have to do is see what a 65 mph crash does to a car and a lovedone’s body, and you will never go that fast again.
04/10/2011 02:56 PM

 


Narrowed field of vision (tunnel vision) Less effective safety cushion of maneuvering space o Greater stopping distances Reduced ability to safely negotiate curves, Reduced ability to react to other motorists encroaching on their lane of travel, and avoid a collision.

Sorry to hear about your loss but you are unsafe at any speed in a car. Even sitting at a light.
04/11/2011 03:13 PM in reply to The Clutter Cutter

http://www.policechiefmagazine.or g/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=d isplay_arch&article_id=1001&issue_i d=92006


Reasonable and prudent...Where can I find some of these huuuuuge tracts of land?
04/10/2011 02:53 PM


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Montana was like that in the 90s. You could set your cruise around 90-100 if you had a newer car. At night it dropped to 65 and Montana would warn you at 70mph.
04/10/2011 03:19 PM

National Motorists Association
NMA Position On Speed Limits

Speed limits should be based on sound traffic engineering principles that consider the actual travel speeds of responsible motorists. Typically, this should result in speed limits set at the 85th percentile speed of free-flowing traffic (the speed below which 85 percent of traffic is traveling). These limits should be periodically adjusted to reflect changes in actual traffic speeds.


Yea.. this is good news. Although this will cutdown on the laughing at the Colorado drivers who forget to slow down after they cross the border.


Motorists have rights. We've been protecting them since 1982.

BAD POINTS 1. Cost of signs 2. Fuel Consumption 3. So with the new limit some will drive between 85 - 90 4. When the turnpike first opened they would check your speed with the time stamp on your turnpike ticket. They found a goodly number of drivers were running at triple digits.


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Summary and Conclusions
1) There is clearly an overwhelming public sentiment in favor of increasing speed limits, as indicated by the willingness of various state legislatures (since the full repeal of the National Maximum Speed Limit of 55 mph in 1995) to increase the speed limits to as high as 75 mph with Texas being in the forefront, willing to push to 85 mph. Nonetheless, it is also clear, and borne out by indisputable facts that accidents, or crashes as they are called by traffic safety researchers, when do they occur at such high speeds (even at 65 mph, when one is not speeding), or even in zones where the posted speed limit is less than 35 mph, can be tragic and fatal. There is no escaping the laws of physics and the increasingly higher amounts of energy that must be absorbed by the vehicle infrastructure to prevent death and/or serious injuries to the occupant(s). 2) When this study was initiated recently [prompted mainly be the news about Texas going to 85 mph, and started reviewing fatalities and fatal crashes data from states like Iowa (with its speed limit increases) and Montana (with no numerical speed limit) and Texas (with its highest in the nation speed limit)], the author was fully expecting an outcome that showed fatalities and crashes going up significantly after each increase in the speed limit, although he was aware that fatality rates, based on VMT, have been going down. This led to the decision to more carefully study the relation between fatal crashes (C) and fatalities (F) under relatively well controlled conditions – such as the available data for rural and interstates crashes or the data for speeding-related crashes. 3) We do not fully understand all the factors that lead to a crash, especially a fatal crash, and how they are affected by the posted speed limits. This is actually a futile debate that would never end. However, we do know that by definition, a fatal crash means at least one person has been killed. In some fatal crashes more than one
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person is killed. In spite of the many variables and the unknown variabilities that affect this phenomenon, the data overwhelmingly shows that fatalities, F, increase as the number of fatal crashes C increase, in a very statistically predictable manner. A simple linear law, of the type y = hx + c, seems to describe the relation between the number of fatal crashes, x, and the number of fatalities, y. Fatal crashes, rather than total crashes (i.e., we exclude crashes resulting only in injuries and/or property damage), provides a much better correlation. Unlike the VMT based fatality rate, which is subject to the criticism of VMT inflation (VMT is an estimated quantity, not a measured quantity), both the number of crashes C and the number of fatalities F can be more reliably measured. (Dr. Leonard Evans, a leading traffic safety expert and author of a leading book entitled Traffic Safety, cautions that even something like the number of fatalities is sometimes difficult to estimate, as in the case of the sinking of the Titanic, natural disasters, or the deaths due to the 9/11 terrorist attack, and so on. However, traffic fatalities are a bit different and a more accurate count is certainly possible, although, as noted, some of these deaths could even be suicides! Thankfully also, homicides using motor vehicles are rare.) 4) The linear law y = hx + c can be tested under various conditions to reveal the effects of significant variables such as speeding, alcohol impaired driving, rural versus urban, interstates versus other roadways, etc. (provided high quality data is available to sort each such variable of interest), to determine if there is a significant change in the numerical values of either the constant h or the constant c. 5) The Iowa data on the number of fatalities and fatal crashes shows very clearly that there is NO statistically significant effect of the changing speed limit under which these crashes/fatalities occurred. The data follows the same straight line with higher crashes simply leading to higher fatalities. This is also confirmed by nationwide data (discussed briefly in the earlier report) and the data from other states, such as Montana, Texas, and Kansas.
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6) The significance of the numerical values of the constants h and c, in the universal law y = hx + c, must be appreciated. Ideally, the slope h = 1 and the constant c = 0 since a single crash must produce at least one fatality, 2 crashes 2 fatalities, and so on, and the number of fatalities y must go to zero as the number of crashes x goes to zero. In the real world, h > 1 and the greater the deviation from 1, the higher the rate at which fatalities increase due to a variety of factors (speed limits, road conditions including weather, type of roadway, vehicle infrastructure, driver behavior, and so on). Likewise, if the intercept c has a high positive value, fatalities are too high for a given set of conditions. A large negative value of the intercept c, as we see for Texas, is definitely desired. The significance of these constants will become more obvious once traffic safety researchers accept this simple law and study its implications more carefully to isolate various crash factors and their effect, with higher-quality data. 7) The relation of the constants h and c to the corresponding constants in Einstein‟s famous photoelectric law is also obvious and must be explored by traffic safety researchers. 8) The study here points to the urgent need to improve the quality of data collection, as it pertains to both fatalities F and crashes C, to reveal the effect of important factors that most researchers accept as being important. For example, to study the effect of a change in the speed limit, it is best to look at F and C values for rural and urban interstates ONLY, not statewide crash and fatality data. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, such data is not currently available for all states. Also, historical data, at least at the state level, going back to the 1950s or 1960s, are not readily available and should be compiled and researched thoroughly. Nearly 40,000 people die each year in traffic related accidents and more teenagers die each year in traffic related crashes than many other events that grab national or international events (as duly noted by Evans).


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9) The complex interaction of vehicle speed, vehicle weight, fuel economy, safety and crashworthiness, and other economic ramifications (insurance costs, medical costs) will ultimately decide what type of vehicles will be on the road and what speed limits are indeed reasonable and prudent. We must not forget that in the 1950s and the 1960s, there was a virtual “epidemic” of traffic related deaths (highlighted in the earlier report by the author) which prompted the highly publicized Congressional hearings and the subsequent traffic safety laws that were enacted. Seat belts and airbags, although originally resisted by manufacturers due to the costs imposed, are now common place. Mandatory seat belt laws have also been enacted in practically all states. Yet, even today, the failure to use seat belts is still one of the most common reasons cited by law enforcement for a traffic fatality. (Perhaps, legislators who champion an increase in the speed limits should be persuaded to write into such laws the mandatory deployment of seat belts, by vehicle design, before it can be operated!) 10) The 20th century ushered a new era in personal transportation, with the introduction of affordable automobiles for the masses. Much more than the need to improve vehicle occupant safety (which certainly yielded seat belts and airbags), the demand for improvement in fuel economy, following the energy crisis (triggered by the Arab oil embargo in 1973, which highlighted US vulnerabilities to foreign oil), and the need to improve emission standards, ultimately lead to the development of modern electric and hybrid vehicles. Likewise, a new era of higher speed limits, can spur innovations in commercialization of high-strength, light-weight materials. Such advanced materials are indeed available but are not cost-competitive at this time. The 21st century can still become a century of innovations, led again by the automobile and other type of high speed mass transportation. The automobile and the vast stretches of open highways, with reasonable and prudent speed laws, or better yet, no posted speed limits at all, still beckon many a driving enthusiast. Montanabahn or the Autobahn! We can, and need to, “Texas Proof” our vehicles!
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Heavier Vehicles Are Dangerous and Kill

Your Big Car Is Killing Me
American cars are getting heavier and heavier. Is that dangerous?
By Annie Lowrey Posted Monday, June 27, 2011, at 6:26 PM ET Like Americans themselves, American cars are getting heavier and heavier every year. We pay a hidden cost for our fat cars. They may be sucking up less gas, slowing the degradation of the environment and the warming of the planet. But they have other "negative externalities"…. A working paper released this month by two economists from the University of California, Berkeley, Maximilian Auffhammer and Michael Anderson, tackles the first question, attempting to put a price tag on the fatalities associated with big cars. They studied accident data from eight states, identifying the type and weight of vehicles involved in collisions by their VIN numbers. The researchers confirm that the heavy cars kill.

Data understate bus deaths
By Alan Levin, USA TODAY June 29, 2011
NHTSA's failure to track all the accidents has given Congress and the public a false impression that buses are safer than they are and has thwarted efforts at tougher regulation, safety advocates say. "By underreporting crashes and fatalities, it has given the industry the political cover they want to go to (Capitol) Hill and say, 'We are really safe,'" says Jacqueline Gillan, vice president of the non-profit Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. USA TODAY found at least 42 deaths of motor coach occupants and drivers were not reported using NHTSA's standard definition of a motor coach from 1995 to 2009, the most current year for which data are available. Since 2003, 32 fatalities were not included.


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Appendix 1 Significance of the intercept c of the best-fit line Legendre’s Best-fit Line and Einstein’s Work Function
The rather small value of the slope, less than the F/C ratio observed in all Iowa fatalities-crashes data, is worthy of further discussion. Let us first recall two important points here regarding the best-fit line. 1. The best-fit line always passes through the point (xm, ym), the average point of the data set, in our case, the point (26, 32), see Table 2. The slope of the line through this “average point” is the same as the “average slope” 1.273 determined here. 2. The best-fit line, also sometimes known as the least squares line, pivots around the “average point” depending on the “scatter” in the data. The extent of this pivoting determines the slope of the best-fit line. How should the slope be determined? Some data points will lie above the best-fit line and some will lie below it. The deviation of any single point (y – yb) is either positive or negative, where yb is the value on the best-fit line. The sum of all deviations ∑(y – yb) is exactly ZERO. But the square of each deviation, (y – yb)2 will always be positive and the sum of all the squares ∑ (y – yb)2 will also be positive. Mathematically speaking, linear regression analysis fixes the slope of the best line by minimizing the squares of such deviations; hence the term least squares method. But, as noted by Legendre, in his famous 1805 paper, when he proposed this method (which was immediately adopted, one of the most rapid acceptances of any statistical method in the entire history of statistics, see Stigler, link below), the best-fit line, or least squares line, is just one of many lines that can one legitimately fit through the “average point”. Each situation, where one observes a “scatter” merits its own analysis. The best-fit, or least squares, slope happens to be the easiest to calculate mathematically.
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However, other “real world” or “physical” considerations cannot be overlooked. Perhaps, the Iowa fatality-crash data (with a slope less than 1, which is theoretically impossible, since the F/C ratio must be greater than 1, by definition) is a case in point. This discussion also points us about the fundamental significance of the numerical value of the constant “c” determined using the best-fit method. Intuitively, and considering the Iowa data, the constant “c” appears to be related to the nature and circumstances of the crashes that led to the fatalities. This must be more fully investigated. To use a phrase from physics, the constant “c” is like the “work function” introduced by Einstein to explain the photoelectric effect. The mathematical equation proposed by Einstein to explain the puzzling aspects of photoelectricity is also a simple linear equation, of the type y = hx + c. Very briefly, when light shines on the surface of a metal, electrons which are normally bound to the atoms of the metal, are ejected. Modern photocells, widely used in many applications (garage door openers, security systems, motion sensing applications such as paper towel dispensers, toilet flushes, etc.) are based on this principle. The electrons then flow through an electric circuit to make the device work. The maximum energy of the electron must be less than the energy of the photon (a particle of light) that is used to eject the electron. The energy of the photon is hf, where f is the frequency of light and h is the famous Planck constant. The idea that light can be thought of as being made up of particles, each with a fixed “bundle of energy” was a revolutionary one back in 1905 when Einstein proposed this idea. The idea of light being made of particles, that obey of laws that he had discovered, had been proposed by none other than Newton himself. However, this particle idea of light had been rejected by physicists, in favor of the idea of light being a type of wave motion. Later, Maxwell, proposed the idea of light being a type of electromagnetic wave - similar to other electromagnetic waves like X-rays, gamma rays, microwaves, radiation of all types, and all “waves” that are now widely used to make our cellphones, GPS systems, and other radio and modern communications work. Here Einstein was actually extending
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and borrowing an important idea introduced by Max Planck to develop quantum physics, in December 1900. After discussing some other important aspects of physics, to justify the idea of a photon, Einstein went on to postulate that the maximum energy E will be less than the photon energy hf since some “work” must be done by the photon to eject the electron. This will vary from one metal to another and is a very complicated matter. To simply the whole problem, Einstein introduced the concept of a work function W which must be determined from actual experimental observations. It cannot be predicted theoretically but the slope h is predicted theoretically, and must be the value that is consistent with other types of observation on radiation (which Planck had been studying back in 1900). The photoelectric equation is therefore, E = hf - W or y = hx + c Here W is the work function of Einstein. In this equation y = E, the maximum energy of the electron and x = f, the frequency of light. The intercept c = - W. The problem of the relation between fatalities and crashes that we are considering here is also a very complex one. The analogy between the constant “c” and Einstein‟s work function W might well be quite appropriate and bears further study and investigation by traffic fatality researchers. Complex problems sometimes indeed have simple solutions.


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Appendix 2 NHTSA Workshop on Vehicle Mass-Size-Safety
NHTSA hosted a workshop on the effects of light-duty vehicle mass and size on vehicle safety on February 25, 2011. Our purpose was to bring together experts in the field to discuss some of the overarching questions that NHTSA must grapple with in our upcoming CAFE rulemaking. Panelists discussed how statistical analysis can help the agency evaluate the effect of vehicle mass and size on safety, and how consideration of vehicle structural crashworthiness, occupant safety, and advanced vehicle design can help inform the agency‟s understanding of what levels of mass reduction might be appropriate to consider for CAFE rulemaking. A number of research projects currently are ongoing at NHTSA and other agencies and in the private sector to help to answer these questions. NHTSA held the workshop to help kick off the dialogue process between the agency and stakeholders and to set a good baseline for further discussions. The workshop was at NHTSA headquarters. Due to space constraints, NHTSA offered a streaming live webinar to expand participation. A recording of the webinar is accessible below, as are printable versions of all the presentations. Workshop materials
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Webinar recording Official transcript NHTSA Deputy Administrator Ron Medford Opening Speech

Panel 1: Statistical Evidence of the Roles of Mass and Size on Safety
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Kahane, NHTSA, “Relationships Between Fatality Risk, Mass, and Footprint” Wenzel, LBNL, “Analyzing Casualty Risk Using State Data on Police-Reported Crashes”
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   

Van Auken, DRI, “Updated Analysis of the Effects of Passenger Vehicle Size and Weight on Safety” Lund, IIHS, “The Relative Safety of Large and Small Passenger Vehicles” Padmanaban, JP Research Green, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

Panel 2: Engineering Realities – Structural Crashworthiness, Occupant Injury and Advanced Vehicle Design
       

Summers, NHTSA, “Finite Element Modeling in Fleet Safety Studies” Peterson, Lotus, “The Design and Impact Performance of a Low Mass Body in White Structure” Kamiji, Honda, “Honda‟s Thinking about Size, Weight and Safety” German, ICCT, “Lightweight Materials and Safety” Schmidt, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Nusholtz, Chrysler, “Mass Change, Complexity and Fleet Impact Response” Field, MIT, “Innovative Automobile Materials Technologies: „Feasibility‟ as an Emergent Systems Property” Jim Tamm, NHTSA Fuel Economy Division Chief, Concluding Remarks

How do I comment on the workshop proceedings? NHTSA strongly encourages interested parties to submit written comment on the workshop proceedings to the mass-safety docket. We suggest that you submit your comments by March 30 to ensure that the agency will have time to consider fully in the upcoming CAFE NPRM. However, we will leave the docket open throughout the rulemaking period and encourage you to check back as we will upload new studies and information as it becomes available. The docket can be accessed at; you can input the docket number NHTSA-20100152 at that website and upload comments electronically, or you can contact Rebecca Yoon (202-366-2992) at NHTSA for assistance with submitting comments.


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About the author The author obtained his Master’s (S. M.) and Doctoral (Sc. D.) degrees in Materials Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA. He then spent his entire professional career at leading US research institutions (MIT, NASA, Case Western Reserve University, and General Motors R & D Center, in Warren, MI). He holds four patents in advanced materials processing, has co-authored two books, and has published several scientific papers in leading peer-reviewed international journals. His expertise includes developing simple mathematical models to explain the behavior of complex systems. He can be reached by email at Acknowledgements The author is grateful for encouraging comments and helpful feedback provided by friends and colleagues with whom these documents were shared prior to uploading as public documents.

Disclosure This document is being uploaded as a public document and available for using by anyone interested. The author is not currently affiliated with anyone in the automotive industry and has no personal conflicting interest in the debate on the benefits of raising or lowering the speed limits. (Just drive safely and go from Point A to B, has been his philosophy.) This research was done entirely on the author‟s personal time. He does not grant the right to use labels such as “Texas Proof”, or anything remotely resembling it, in any ad campaigns in the future for any commercial purpose. Permission for such use is, however, freely granted for noncommercial uses.


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