Highways are more hazardous today, you might have noticed, with drivers barreling down the road in larger vehicles at faster speeds, according to a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Driving habits were studied in six states – Colorado, California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Mexico – as well as in five major cities, from 1996-1999.

Who goes 55 mph anymore? Seventy-eight percent of drivers typically hit speeds of 70 mph, and almost 20 percent are driving faster than 80, the study found.

Zoom, zoom… Another factor pushing faster driving is TV image-making. The Institute found performance and speed is most often marketed in TV auto commercials. Safety was only mentioned in two percent of ads, according to the Institute's review.

The Land Transport Safety Authority of New Zealand conducted a broader study and also found higher speeds resulted in more deaths.

Death rates were studied on rural interstates where speed limits had been increased from 55 mph to 75 mph. On those roads, the study finds a 38 percent increase, or about 780 more deaths.

States included in the study that raised their speed limits to 75 mph were all in the west. For states increasing speeds to 70 mph, the percentage of deaths rose by 35 percent.