Excessive Speed in Auto Accidents

There are more than 6 million automobile accidents on United States roads every year. More than 40,000 people die in those accidents with another 3 million people suffering injuries and approximately 2 million suffering permanent injuries. While driving under the influence of alcohol accounts for approximately 40% of deadly crashes, excessive speed is the second most serious cause, accounting for 30% of fatalities. Speed is defined as exceeding the posted speed limit or driving too fast for the conditions of the road. A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that when states raised their speed limited automobile fatalities increased significantly on interstate highways within those states.

Excessive speed not only reduces the amount of reaction time but also decreases the ability to control the vehicle, and increases the chance for fatalities. The force of an impact doubles with every 10 miles per hour increase in speeds above 50 miles per hour. The chances of being killed or seriously injured also increases dramatically with higher speeds. Young drivers under the age of 30, especially male drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal crashes due to speed. Statistics show that the older people get the less likely they are to speed. Alcohol will also increase the chances that someone will speed. Studies have shown that in 1998 43% of drunk driving fatalities as opposed to 14% of sober driving fatalities were related to speed. It has also been found that speeding drivers are less likely to wear their seatbelts and less likely to have a valid driver’s license.

While auto accidents contributed to excessive speed seemed to be on a downward trend, as of 2006 it seems to be on the increase since that time. The cost to society, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates, is $40.4 billion a year. The cause of excessive speed is not only related to alcohol, but a mentality of “hurry up” and get there, and the distractions caused by all the new technology available today such as, talking on cell phone, texting, resetting GPS’s, and sleep deprivation. Drivers who are on the road for a living are in a rush to get where they are going and often lack the patience to follow slower drivers or are in a rush to get around traffic congestion. When polled, neighborhood residents list speeding as a major complaint. However, when these residents leave their neighborhoods, they forget their complaint and succumb to speeding in their haste to get where they are going. While speeding is a complaint amongst most people, it seems to be a “socially acceptable” fault that most people admit to at one time or another. Radar detectors were the norm in the 80’s to 90’s however; many states have now outlawed their use.

Most motorists, when asked, believe that they are driving at safe speeds, dependent upon the road and the conditions. However, studies have shown that those drivers are actually unable to control the vehicle at the speeds they are driving and lack the focus and concentration necessary to avoid a collision. It was commonly understood that when driving at the same speed as 85% of all the other drivers on the road, drivers were driving safely. This belief might no longer be true. Speeds have dramatically increased, exceeding the vehicle’s safely equipment’s ability to protect the passengers from either serious injury or death. Higher volume of traffic and increased distractions are the cause for the ineffectiveness of this rule of thumb.

While law enforcement is well aware of the dangers of speeding, civilians still view speeding as “something everyone does”. The horrendous trauma a victim of an excess speeding endures is something that can be avoided by safe driving habits. Unfortunately, the impact on the victim or the family in a high speed accident is tremendous. Such negligence is something that our law firm believes should be actions for which the negligent driver should be held accountable.

The legal information on this site is not intended to be legal advice. Contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys or lawyers today to get specific information and answers for your specific situation.

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