Speed is involved in about one out of three fatal crashes, according to NHTSA. It is the third leading contributing factor to traffic crashes. But while injuries and fatalities due to other dangerous behaviors such as driving while impaired and not wearing seatbelts have been significantly reduced, speed is still a challenge.
The NHTSA defines a crash as speed-related if a driver is charged with a speed-related offense and/or if an officer indicates that racing, driving too fast for conditions or exceeding the posted speed limit contributed to the crash. Surveys find that although people name “excessive speed” as a threat to their safety, the majority say they also exceed the posted speed limit when driving. There are many reasons why people drive too fast.
According to Focus on Safety: A Practical Guide to Automated Traffic Enforcement, drivers speed because:
- They’re in a hurry.
- They’re inattentive to their driving.
- They don’t take traffic laws seriously; they don’t think the laws apply to them.
- They don’t view their driving behavior as dangerous.
- They don’t expect to get caught.
- Some or all of the above.
Speeding results in:
- Lives lost – over 13,000 each year.
- Work zone crashes and fatalities – speed was a factor in 27 percent of fatal crashes in construction and maintenance zones.
- Unsafe school zones – compliance with lower speed limits is poor.
- Economic costs -- speed-related crashes cost society over $40 billion annually, according to NHTSA. Every minute "gained" by speeding to a destination costs U.S. society over $76,000.
Speeding is often one of several risky factors in fatal crashes, because alcohol-impaired drivers are more likely to speed, and speeding drivers are less likely to wear seat belts. Alcohol, lack of seat belts and speeding are a deadly combination.
Young males are the most likely to be involved in speed-related crashes. According to NHTSA data, 39 percent of male drivers age 15-20 who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash.
People often think of highways as a major factor for speeding fatalities, perhaps because speeds are highest on highways. But the vast majority of speeding-related fatalities happen on roads that are not interstate highways. NHTSA's fatality data shows that 47 percent of speed-related fatalities occur on roads posted at 50 mph or less, and more than 20 percent occur on roads posted at 35 mph or less.
In Arizona, posted speed limits are considered by law to be “reasonable speeds” for the area of roadway with normal traffic conditions. ALWAYS, you must adjust your speed based upon multiple factors: Traffic and pedestrian presence, weather and type of roadway. Is it a violation of the law to travel 65 on a 55 mph high with no traffic? No. Could it be a violation of the law to drive 25 in a 25 mph zone in an area filled with school kids? Yes. You are required to adjust your speed to the traffic and other conditions present at all times. “Reasonableness” is always the deciding factor.