More than 10,000 deaths — about a third of all crash fatalities — occurred in speed-related crashes in 2012. (1)
High speeds make a crash more likely because it takes longer to stop or slow down. They also make collisions more deadly because crash energy increases exponentially as speeds go up.
Raising speed limits leads to more deaths. People often drive faster than the speed limit, and if the limit is raised they will go faster still. Research shows that when speed limits are raised, speeds go up, as do fatal crashes.
Why Speding Is So Dangerous
Speeding affects several aspects of driving. First it limits the amount of time a driver has to react to a change in the environment. For example, if something were to jump out on the road while a driver was driving the speed limit, the driver would have more time to react before the vehicle reached the object than if the driver were speeding. Higher speeds leave less time for the driver to react before the vehicle reaches the object. Second, the faster a vehicle is traveling the longer the distance the driver needs to come to a stop. It will take longer for a vehicle traveling 60 mph to come to a safe stop than it would for a vehicle traveling 40 mph.
Finally, speed reduces the driver’s ability to steer safely around road curves and objects on the road. The faster a vehicle is traveling, the less control a driver has over its manoeuvrability. Any of these effects alone would make it difficult for a driver to avoid a crash, but by combining these effects, speed becomes a deadly force working against a driver.
How Speding Results in Serious Injury
As a vehicle travels, energy is created and the faster a vehicle travels the more energy it produces. The vehicle is designed to absorb this energy in the event of a crash, but there are limits to how much a vehicle can absorb. If this threshold is exceeded, which is often the case in high speed crashes, then safety features such as seatbelts and air bags are less able to reduce the impact of a crash, which in turn threatens the safety of the occupants inside.16 Similarly, the impact of a relatively small increase in speed can have detrimental results in a collision. According to an article by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), “if a vehicle traveling 40 mph in a 30 mph zone collides with another vehicle, that 10 mph difference translates into a 78% increase in collision energy”.17This can mean the difference between life and death when involved in a motor vehicle crash.
(1) Source: Insurance Institute of Highway Safetey
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Speeding Related Fatal Crashes Among Teen Drivers and Opportunities For Reducng the Risks