The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a report highlighting the relationship between speed and motor vehicle fatalities. The statistics they uncovered are alarming. According to the GHSA report, speed is a persistent factor in nearly one-third of fatal car accidents across the country. Speed not only endangers motorists, but also puts the lives of cyclists and pedestrians at risk.
The report not only presents the facts, but also looks at current programs to educate the public about the dangers of speeding and considers new approaches to preventing speed-related fatal wrecks. Clearly, not enough is being done to convince the driving public that speeding is fatal. The Executive Director of the GHSA believes to prevent fatal speed accidents entirely, additional resources aimed at getting drivers to slow down are needed.
How Speed Impacts a Crash
A one-percent increase in speed correlates to a four percent increase in the risk of a fatality. Inappropriate speed is considered driving at a speed that is unsuitable for the traffic and road conditions at the time, which is a major contributing factor in all motor vehicle crashes and in one-third of car accident fatalities.
The faster a car is moving, the less time the driver has to stop and avoid a crash. Also, the amount of energy released in a crash increases the faster a vehicle moves. The human body absorbs some of this energy upon impact but can only withstand so much. When the external force of an impact is too great, the victim’s injuries can be fatal.
To give a clear example of how safe speeds save lives, consider this: A pedestrian hit by car moving at 20 miles per hour has a 90 percent chance of surviving; a pedestrian hit by a car moving at 40 miles per hour only has a 10 percent chance of surviving the accident.
Driver Attitudes Toward Speeding
In 2017, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety surveyed drivers about their behaviors behind the wheel and speeding. More than half of drivers acknowledged exceeding the speed limit on freeways by at least 15 miles per hour. Nearly half of participants said they drove at least 10 miles per hour over the speed limit on residential streets. Nearly one-quarter of drivers questioned said they felt speeding 15 miles per hour over the limit on highways was acceptable.