you now have opposing traffic with higher closing speeds.
True. However, we’re already closing at 110mph. If you head-on, you’re already in significant trouble.
Most vehicles are less stable and less maneuverable at higher speeds, too
Most vehicles today are at least as, if not far more, stable at 80 than vehicles in 1973 were at 55 when the national 55mph speed limit was enacted.
It is much more difficult if they're going 65 mph, 85 mph, etc
I don’t really agree with this. You go if you’re sure you can make it. If you’re not sure you can make it, and with room to spare, you don’t go. If your supposition were correct, then almost anytime someone decided to speed on a road with cross traffic, there would be a wreck.
* Any time you have obstructed views in corners and turns, you have just reduced your reaction time to what lies around the bend.
I don’t think anyone is suggesting an 80mph speed limit on the Tail of the Dragon. But if the road is straight, and doesn’t have hills, and cross streets are limited (you see a lot of these in places like Iowa and Montana) there’s no reason 80mph can’t be safe.
* From my experience, drivers don't adjust their following distance properly for higher speeds. They'll stick 15 feet off your bumper whether you're going 30 mph or 80 mph. That is bound to cause more accidents with increased speed.
This goes to driver training and traffic enforcement. If you want to talk about more stringent training and testing, and more law enforcement concentration on ticketing tailgaters, I’ll lead the charge. As it is, driver training and testing in this country is laughable. One big reason people can do 150 on the Autobahn without daily carnage is that Germany trains its drivers much better, and holds them to much higher standards. I’d be all for that here.
* Let's not forget about other factors - such as deer crossing the road. It is VERY easy to avoid them while driving 15 mph through the county park. It is MUCH harder at 55 on the freeway when they jump out from the trees. Its even harder at 85.
So don’t make the speed limit 85 in deer-prone areas.
* And finally, let's consider mechanical problems.
Again using Germany as an example, if you have a rolling crapheap, you can either fix it, or stop driving it. Drivers are expected and required to keep up with maintenance. The difference here is that a cop can watch a car spewing clouds of burning oil, bouncing like a kid on a bed because of bad shocks, and with the wheels at a 10 degree camber, and he won’t pull the guy over unless he has a busted taillight. If you want to talk about requiring that cars be roadworthy, I’ll lead that charge too.
The way I see it, the problem is not that “speed kills,” because that is patently false - if speed killed, then pilots would die shortly after takeoff. Crashing at speed kills, and crashing is something that can be significantly reduced by requiring better drivers and better-maintained cars.
This is why Germany’s deaths-per-mile-driven on the Autobahn is usually similar, and often a bit lower, than the deaths-per-mile-driven on our interstates.