Featured News 2018 How Speed Affects Your Driving Ability

How Speed Affects Your Driving Ability

How We Got Here

More than 13,000 people were killed by accidents caused by speeding in 2004 alone. In an National Transportation Safety Board study looking at accidents from 2005 to 2014, researchers found that speeding was the cause of death in thirty percent of fatalities. That's 112,580 lives lost in that 9-year period—nearly the exact same amount of people who died in alcohol-related crashes.

The Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act of 1974 made the maximum speed limit in the United States no higher than 55 mph. In little over a decade, this changed in 1987 to 65 on certain roads. Congress repealed the National Maximum Speed Limit in December of 1995; since then, there have been steady increases in annual vehicle fatalities. On some interstate highways, the speed limit increase preceded a jump in the fatality rate by 450-500 deaths.

The Effects of Speeding

The NHTSA states that speed impairs the driver's ability to avoid obstacles in the road and increases the amount of distance required for adequate reaction time. In 2009, there were 2,071 deaths from speeds over 55 mph; meanwhile, there were 1,277 deaths at speeds 35 mph and under.

Research suggests that occupants are 20 percent more likely to die in a crash in a car going 80 mph than in a car going 30 mph. The higher the speed, the harder it is to stop. For every increase of 1 mph in speed, there is a 3 percent higher chance of killing someone in a collision.

For some reason, age is also a factor in speeding accidents. Studies show that people younger than 30 speed more frequently than older people and are more prone to accidents. Those who are most likely to be in a speed-related accident are young males. Regardless, drivers of all ages must understand how vehicle safety affects those inside and outside of the car, and of course their selves.

Some safety advocates note that the speed limits themselves are faulty because they're not based on safety information. They're based on an old formula based on driver behavior. When highways were first designed, traffic engineers recorded the speed of drivers on rural roads and set a speed limit according to the speed 85 percent of drivers were traveling at. If, say, 85 percent of drivers decided to commute at 100 mph, the logic of the speed limit would demand it be set at 100 mph. The NTSB itself has admitted that the policy doesn't make sense.

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