Raising speed limits may do little to save time and increase traffic flow but could lead to more crashes, injuries, and deaths, according to a new study.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research analyzed before-and-after data on a dozen roadways that raised or lowered posted speed limits.

The results varied across all 12 roadway sites examined. All had new posted speed limits— six raised and six lowered— and included various road types. Raising posted speed limits was associated with increased crashes on two interstate highways.

At the same time, the study also found that lowering posted speed limits led to fewer crashes in many cases examined. But the likelihood of speed limit violations increased after lowering posted speed limits, suggesting the need for better public awareness education tied to these changes.

“The movement in statehouses to raise speed limits is happening across the country in at least eight states this year,” said Jennifer Ryan, director of state relations for AAA.

“But the benefits are overrated, and the risks are understated. Increasing speed limits does not always yield the positive results envisioned by traffic planners.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were more than 42,000 traffic deaths in 2021 in the US and again in 2022, the highest levels in 16 years. NHTSA reports that speeding was a factor in nearly 29 percent of the fatalities in 2021 and 27 per cent in 2022.