Opinion

Modern automobiles far safer than those of the past

safer automobiles I read with great interest your recent article regarding the WSDOT proposal to increase speed limits on the state's interstate highways.
   While 55 mph may be prudent on some congested stretches of interstate, it is dangerously boring, monotonous, and hypnotizing when conditions safely permit a higher speed.
   Since 1973, we have seen the advent of radial tires, disc brakes, antilock braking systems, airbags, speed-sensitive power steering, energy-absorbing bumpers, more sophisticated suspension systems, crush zones, improved interior padding, daytime running lights, side impact protection, and lighter, more nimble cars; so despite the increased number of vehicles on the road, modern automobiles are far safer than those driven two or three decades ago.
   Studies such as those made by the Traffic Safety Research Division of the Federal Highway Administration reveal that "speed limits are set too low to be accepted as reasonable by a vast majority of motorists" and that "posted speeds make technical violators out of motorists driving at safe and reasonable speeds."
   So, a lower speed limit makes more violators, which results in more violations, which further results in more violation-surcharges on auto insurance premiums.
   There is little doubt in my mind regarding the insurance industry's motive in its fierce opposition to the proposed speed limit increases.

Rick Louis LaMarche, D.C., Woodinville