Speeding is a major cause of accidents everywhere. For good reason, major cities are putting up more speed cameras, and New York has designed a reckless driving initiative aimed at reducing the number of speeders and red light runners by requiring those who rack up speeding-related citations to take a driver’s safety course or risk impoundment of their vehicle.
Recent speeding-related tragedies in the five boroughs include:
- A driver from Brooklyn who had accumulated eight speeding or red light running tickets struck and killed two young children.
- A driver with 10 previous speeding violations struck and killed an 85-year-old woman.
- In Manhattan, a driver who had two speeding violations crushed a bicycle courier.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for the past two decades, roughly one-third of all fatal accidents in the U.S. have been attributed to speeding. In the most recent year for which statistics were available, excessive speed constituted a contributing factor in 26 percent of all fatal accidents, accounting for more than 9,000 deaths a year. Read on for more information about why speeding is such a dangerous driving practice.
Why Is Speeding So Dangerous?
Most people think of speeding as exceeding a posted speed limit. In fact, speeding consists of driving too fast for road conditions, no matter what the speed limit on that particular stretch of pavement. What is so dangerous about driving too fast?
Let’s count the ways:
- Speeding reduces the amount of time a person has to perceive and respond to a hazard on the roadway, such as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or another car.
- Speeding increases the amount of distance needed for a vehicle to come to a safe stop. The larger and heavier the vehicle is, the more distance it will need to stop. This distance is further increased by slippery road conditions.
- A faster speed increases the force of impact in a collision, resulting in more serious damage or injuries.
- Speeding makes it harder to control a vehicle, particularly around corners or curves.
- Speeding reduces the effectiveness of a vehicle’s safety features, such as the integrity of the steel frame, the airbags, and the seat belts.
Common, Despite the Dangers
If people know that speeding is so dangerous, then why do so many people do it? Experts believe drivers speed for a variety of (mostly psychological) reasons, including feeling pressed for time, feeling angry or anxious, thinking it necessary to match the speed of other vehicles on the road (even if faster than the posted limit), and thrill-seeking. In a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 164 drivers were outfitted with GPS systems that compared the driver’s actual speed with the posted speed limit everywhere they went.
The study revealed four general types of drivers:
- Drivers who generally drive below the speed limit, but occasionally exceed it. These are known as incidental speeders whose instances of speeding were likely accidental.
- Drivers who are not concerned with the posted speed limit, but try to avoid a speeding ticket. These are known as situational speeders who also speed infrequently but do so for a large percentage of the trip and are most often speeding to avoid being late for work.
- Drivers who sometimes drive unsafely at 10 to 20 miles per hour above the speed limit, and sometimes risk getting a ticket. These are referred to as casual speeders, who speed on a large number of trips, but only a small percentage of each trip. This behavior is generally the result of individual driving habits.
- Drivers who disregard the speed limit and drive at a speed that most drivers consider unsafe, at least 20 miles per hour above the speed limit. Drivers who speed on many trips and for a large percentage of the time are known as habitual speeders.
The study also revealed that individuals who had someone in their lives who cared about speed and believed speeding is wrong were less likely to speed. Those engaging in road rage and reckless driving behaviors were more likely to do so on lower speed-limit roads. When interviewed, while all drivers understood that a speed limit is technically the maximum speed at which vehicles should travel, many drivers interpret the limits as more of a target speed.
Some even believed that a speed limit represented the minimum acceptable speed for some roadways. The study concluded that speeding patterns differ widely from one geographic location to another and that no single deterrent will prevent all speeders from driving too fast.
Among the reasons often given by drivers who get caught speeding are:
- Impatience. They want to get to their destination quickly.
- The thrill of the risk. Some people like how it feels when they drive fast.
- Running late for work, school, or an appointment.
- A feeling of ownership. The driver feels as if he or she owns the road and can drive as fast as he or she wishes.
- Distraction or daydreaming. The driver has stopped paying attention to his or her speed.
- Showing off for friends. This is often seen with young drivers, particularly young males.
- Curiosity about how it feels to drive really fast.
- A sense of detachment caused by the anonymity of the vehicle, in which one stops thinking about the risk that he or she poses to others.
- Road rage, or racing.
- Pacing other drivers on the road.
- Loss of judgment due to alcohol or drug impairment.
None of these explanations constitutes a legal excuse for speeding. A driver who travels too fast for road conditions and causes an accident will virtually always face legal liability for harm caused by the crash. Speak with an experienced attorney today if a speeding driver injured you.
Who Is Most Likely Die or Cause Fatal Crashes Due to Speed?
Drivers of any age or either gender may feel a temptation to speed. However, some drivers are more likely to die in accidents or cause speeding-related fatalities than others.
These drivers include:
- Young males, between the ages of 15 and 24. Thirty-one percent of the drivers in this demographic who were involved in fatal crashes were determined to have been speeding at the time of the crash. By comparison, only 18 percent of females ages 15 and 20 and 15 percent of females ages 21 and 24 who were involved in fatal accidents were found to be speeding at the time of the crash.
- Males of all ages were more likely than females to exceed the speed limit or drive too fast for conditions.
- Repeat offenders. More than a quarter of all drivers who were involved in fatal accidents had previous convictions for speeding, and 24 percent had previous suspensions or license revocations. More than one in five had previously been involved in an accident, and six percent had a previous drunk driving conviction.
- Those who consume too much alcohol. Alcohol impairment not only causes deficits in a driver’s ability to control speed, but also impacts his or her ability to make good decisions; 37 percent of the speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes have a blood alcohol concentration of at least the legal limit of 0.08 percent, while only 16 percent of non-speeding drivers do.
- Drivers in construction zones. Nearly a third of all fatal crashes occurring within construction zones resulted from a driver driving too fast for conditions. Give construction workers a break and slow down in a construction zone. A small mistake on a driver’s part can all-too-easily lead to tragedy for a road worker.
- Drivers in inclement weather. Forty percent of all fatal speed-related crashes take place on icy or frost-covered roads. 34 percent took place on roads covered in slush and snow. 21 percent of these accidents took place when the roads were wet. Only 16 percent of fatal speed-related crashes occurred on dry roads.
How to Avoid an Accident With a Speeder
While it is impossible to prevent every type of accident that occurs, traffic experts say that avoiding speeders plays an important role in keeping yourself safe from getting into a catastrophic collision. Tips on dealing with speeding drivers include:
- Move over from the left lane to the right line to let someone pass you. Speeders will often try to pass you on the right, which only increases the risks of an accident.
- Give speeders space, knowing that they are more likely to lose control of their vehicle than a driver who drives at or near the speed limit.
- Speeding is an aggressive driving practice that causes drivers to commit other violations, including red-light running or tailgating. Be cautious of those driving practices when you approach an intersection, attempt to turn, or gauge a gap in traffic when trying to pull into traffic or cross a lane.
- If you see a driver speeding excessively, pull over to a safe area and notify the police. Try to give an accurate description of the vehicle, including make, model, color, and—if you saw it—a license plate number or even partial plate number.
With its new reckless driving program, New York City becomes the first major city in the nation to attempt to correct dangerous driving practices such as speeding through education and the threat of impoundment, rather than through fines. One city councilman described the program as targeting the very worst offenders—the ones who continue to speed ticket after ticket, in spite of the imposition of fines.
About 5,000 vehicles—less than 1 percent of the vehicles in the city—are expected to accumulate the number of tickets that would trigger the initiative’s required education for the driver and threat of impoundment. However, the authors of the initiative believe that, after the initial implementation phase, the number of violations needed to trigger a mandatory class may drop, to capture more and more dangerous speeders.
Those opposed to the initiative complain that it is just one more inconvenience that may cause people to leave the city. Others argue that the use of traffic cameras violates their constitutional rights, insofar as it deprives the driver of the right to face an accuser in court. Currently, New York City has at least 150 red-light cameras at intersections and more than 600 cameras that monitor speed on the city’s roadways. The city intends to have 2,000 speed cameras by 2021. The speed cameras issue tickets to registered owners if the vehicle is traveling at least 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. The fine for each violation is $50.
New Jersey has banned the use of red-light and speed cameras.
If You Were Injured in a Speed-Related Crash Caused by Someone Else
If you have suffered an injury in a speed-related crash in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, you may have the legal right to hold the speeder accountable for money damages. Make sure to discuss your accident with an experienced car accident attorney right away.
An attorney can:
- Explain the legal options available to you, in accordance with the facts of your case and the laws in the region where your accident occurred.
- Investigate the fact to identify the legally liable parties in the accident.
- Evaluate the scope of your injuries and the amount of money you deserve to receive as compensation for them.
- Negotiate with insurance companies and defense attorneys in pursuit of a fair and reasonable settlement of your legal claims.
- Represent you in court proceedings, including at trial if that is what is required to get you the compensation you need.
- See to it that you receive the funds you deserve.
Do not wait to seek advice from an experienced motor vehicle accident injury attorney. The sooner you act, the better your chances of recovering the maximum compensation allowed by law. If you wait too long to act, however, you may lose your rights to compensation altogether. So, contact an experienced car accident lawyer today.