Thirty-three percent of all fatal crashes involve speeding, which is the third leading contributing factor in a traffic crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council. For every minute gained by speeding, the cost to American society is more than $76,000. The dangers of speeding are many and drivers should be aware of all of them.
Drivers speed because they are in a rush, are not paying attention, or do not think they will be caught. Some do not believe that they are driving dangerously and others do not believe that motor vehicle laws apply to them. According to the NHTSA, male drivers ages 15 to 20 are at particularly high risk when it comes to speeding. Thirty-nine percent of them were speeding at the time they experienced a fatal vehicle crash.
Driving at higher than recommended speeds makes it easier to lose control of the vehicle. This can be especially dangerous during inclement weather when the vehicle can hydroplane or skid. Speeding is a factor in the majority of vehicle crashes that occur when roads are covered with snow, slush, or ice. Insurance professionals say that most vehicle accidents occurring during bad weather are caused by drivers who believe they can go faster than weather conditions permit.
Speeding can result in crashes, injuries, and deaths in special environments such as work zones and school zones. In 2005, vehicle speed was a factor in more than one-quarter of fatal crashes that occurred in maintenance and construction zones. Speeding in school zones is a common problem and according to the National Safe Kids Campaign, children are eight times more likely to die when hit by a car traveling 30 mph than by one traveling 20mph or less.
In addition to precious lives, speeding also has financial costs including tickets that can cost between $150 and over $1,000. Every five mph driven over 60 mph costs an additional 24 cents per gallon of gas used. Speeding can also lead to other risky behavior such as failure to wear a seatbelt or driving under the influence of alcohol.
Checking the traffic report, allowing sufficient travel time, and adjusting driving to match conditions represent a safe approach. Adhere to posted speed limits and when exiting highways, traveling through residential areas, or driving on winding roads, be prepared for sudden reductions in speed. Endangering lives by speeding is not worth arriving at a destination on time.
*Photo Courtesy of Arup Malakar via Creative Commons License