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Speed limit laws in America: The role of geography, mobility and ideology

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  • Albalate, Daniel
  • Bel, Germà

Abstract

Speed limits had been centralized at the federal level since 1974, until decisions were devolved to the states in 1995. However, the centralization debate has reemerged in recent years. This paper conducts the first econometric analysis of the determinants of speed limit laws and State reactions after the repeal. By using mobility, geographic and political variables, our results suggest that geography – which reflects private mobility needs and social preferences –, is one of the main factors influencing speed limit laws, together with political ideology. Furthermore, we identify the presence of regional and time diffusion effects. By presenting first evidence on policy determinants, we provide a better understanding of the formulation of the heterogeneity of speed limits in US and offer implications for the debate on centralization and decentralization of transport policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Albalate, Daniel & Bel, Germà, 2012. "Speed limit laws in America: The role of geography, mobility and ideology," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 337-347.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:46:y:2012:i:2:p:337-347
    DOI: 10.1016/j.tra.2011.10.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Peter Martinsson, 2005. "Anyone for higher speed limits? – Self-interested and adaptive political preferences," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(3), pages 319-331, March.
    2. Orley Ashenfelter, 2006. "Measuring the Value of a Statistical Life: Problems and Prospects," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages 10-23, March.
    3. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2004:94:4:568-574_4 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Orley Ashenfelter & Michael Greenstone, 2004. "Using Mandated Speed Limits to Measure the Value of a Statistical Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 226-267, February.
    5. Casello, Jeffrey M., 2007. "Transit competitiveness in polycentric metropolitan regions," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 19-40, January.
    6. Holgui­n-Veras, Jose & Cetin, Mecit & Xia, Shuwen, 2006. "A comparative analysis of US toll policy," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 40(10), pages 852-871, December.
    7. Delhaye, E., 2006. "Traffic safety: Speed limits, strict liability and a km tax," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 205-226, March.
    8. Robert O. Yowell, 2005. "The Evolution and Devolution of Speed Limit Law and the Effect on Fatality Rates," Review of Policy Research, Policy Studies Organization, vol. 22(4), pages 501-518, July.
    9. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2008.153726_3 is not listed on IDEAS
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