Speeding Is a Factor in 26 percent Fatal Accidents
You’re late to work. Traffic was terrible but now that you’ve gotten through it, you need to make up some time. Everyone else is driving fast, so why shouldn’t you? These excuses are common—surely you’ve heard them, and perhaps you’ve even made them yourself. However, if you’re running late and you’re tempted to speed, perhaps you should think twice. And if someone else did so, and injured you, a car accident lawyer could help you recover compensation for your injuries.
If so, you’re not alone. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding accounts for approximately one-quarter of all fatal accidents in the United States. In one recent year, the exact percentage of fatal accidents resulting from driving too fast for the conditions of the road or exceeding the posted speed limit was 26. In the Bronx alone, in a recent month, 49 traffic crashes were attributed to driving at an unsafe speed.
What Causes Drivers to Speed?
A driver might ignore the potential consequences and drive faster than the posted speed limit or the conditions of the road warrant for any number of reasons. The most common reason, of course, is that the individual is running late.
Some other reasons that cause auto accidents include:
- Traffic congestion, which can cause drivers to become irritated or angry (know as road rage)and resort to aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding.
- Anonymity. In the isolated bubble of one’s own car, he or she may experience a detachment from society and exhibit careless behaviors that he or she wouldn’t normally engage in. A speeding driver often fails to see other drivers as humans who are merely trying to get to where they’re going. Instead, the speeding driver sees others as obstacles to get past.
- Disregard for others or for the law. For some drivers, aggressive behaviors such as speeding are simply “the way they drive.” These drivers consistently take risks for no other reason than that they believe they can.
An op-ed published several years ago in the New York Times mentioned a study done by researchers at Purdue University, in which 1,000 motorists were surveyed regarding their attitudes toward speeding. What the survey results revealed is that many drivers are far less worried about the dangers of speeding, and were instead focused on how fast they could drive without getting caught.
The results of the survey were in line with previous research that indicated that two-thirds of all drivers regularly exceed posted speed limits and that roughly a third of drivers report regularly driving 10 miles per hour faster than other vehicles on the road.
The NHTSA reports that the drivers most likely to be involved in speed-related fatal accidents are young males between the ages of 15 to 24. In all age categories, males were more likely to speed than their female counterparts.
What Makes Speeding so Dangerous?
Speeding not only increases the risk of a vehicle becoming involved in an accident but also increases the severity of the accident. Here’s why:
- The faster a vehicle is moving, the harder it is to control. This is particularly true around winding corners, where the driver may have difficulty maintaining the travel lane at a high rate of speed.
- A vehicle’s accident protection features, such as seat belts or airbags, are designed to function properly in accidents that take place up to a certain speed. If that speed is exceeded, the protection provided by these features is diminished.
- Two main factors determine the amount of space a vehicle needs to come to a safe stop: The vehicle’s weight, and the speed at which it is traveling. Larger vehicles and faster-moving vehicles each require more distance to stop, and if there is a hazard in the roadway ahead, there may not be enough space for this stop to take place.
- Drivers require an amount of time to see a hazard in the roadway, perceive this hazard as a danger, and to depress the brakes to stop. The faster an individual is driving, the less amount of time they have to see and respond to hazards.
- An increase in speed increases the energy and impact of the crash, leading to a greater likelihood of serious injuries or even death in accidents involving a high rate of speed.
In addition to the dangers posed by speeding, other consequences can come into play. New York, like many states, has a point system with traffic violations. A driver who incurs at least 11 points in any 18-month period may face a license suspension. Driving up to 10 miles per hour over a posted speed limit results in 3 points, up to 20 miles per hour over is a four-point ticket.
The points increase as the speed increases, with a driver traveling more than 40 miles per hour over the speed limit facing an immediate suspension of his or her license. Drivers who cause speed-related accidents face higher penalties along with other financial penalties for their actions.
How Are Speed Limits Established?
In New York, the Department of Transportation’s Traffic Engineering and Highway Safety Division has regulatory authority over all posted speed limits. In some circumstances, cities and towns are permitted to set their own speed limits on certain roadways, within the guidelines of the state’s traffic laws. Speed limits on state highways within cities are established by local ordinances unless the municipality wishes to have the state set those limits.
Where a highway speed limit under 55 miles per hour is warranted, the appropriate speed limit is set by determining the speed at which 85 percent of the drivers are traveling. The assumption is that motorists generally adjust their speed in accordance with the geometrics of the road and the developments alongside it. The 85th percentile is usually an accurate demonstration of a safe traveling speed for a reasonably prudent driver. However, there are some circumstances where the 85 percent rule doesn’t apply, and in these cases other factors can come into play.
If you were injured in an accident caused by a speeding driver, call a car accident lawyer if you have questions about how to recover compensation.
Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond – (718) 588-2000