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Social Preferences and Transport Policy:The case of US speed limits


  • Daniel Albalate

    () (Faculty of Economics, University of Barcelona)


This article, in reviewing the long-running US debate on speed limits, illustrates how a different valuation of the trade-off between private mobility needs and safety concerns can shape transport policies. It is argued that the regulatory decentralization debate, together with the speed limit in force in each state, obey the social preferences and valuation given to this trade-off. Such a view is consistent with evidence that higher speed limits are to be found in states with greater private mobility needs, even though their fatality rates might be among the highest in the country. By contrast, lower speed limits and supporters of a low national speed limit are to be found in states that show a greater concern for safety outcomes and which are less dependent on private mobility. By reviewing these events and examining the role played by the main actors and analyzing their motivations, the article identifies important lessons for similar future discussions on transport policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Albalate, 2009. "Social Preferences and Transport Policy:The case of US speed limits," IREA Working Papers 200926, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Nov 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:ira:wpaper:200926

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    Speed Limits; Transport Policy; Social Preferences; Policy Analysis.;
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