Speeding endangers everyone on the road: In 2020, speeding killed 11,258 people. We all know the frustrations of modern life and juggling a busy schedule, but speed limits are put in place to protect all road users. Learn about the dangers of speeding and why faster doesn’t mean safer.
Dangers of Speeding
For more than two decades, speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities. In 2020, speeding was a contributing factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities.
Speed also affects your safety even when you are driving at the speed limit but too fast for road conditions, such as during bad weather, when a road is under repair, or in an area at night that isn’t well lit.
Speeding endangers not only the life of the speeder, but all of the people on the road around them, including law enforcement officers. It is a problem we all need to help solve.
Speeding is more than just breaking the law. The consequences are far-ranging:
- Greater potential for loss of vehicle control;
- Reduced effectiveness of occupant protection equipment;
- Increased stopping distance after the driver perceives a danger;
- Increased degree of crash severity leading to more severe injuries;
- Economic implications of a speed-related crash; and
- Increased fuel consumption/cost.
What Drives Speeding?
Speeding is a type of aggressive driving behavior. Several factors have contributed to an overall rise in aggressive driving:
Traffic congestion is one of the most frequently mentioned contributing factors to aggressive driving, such as speeding. Drivers may respond by using aggressive driving behaviors, including speeding, changing lanes frequently, or becoming angry at anyone who they believe impedes their progress.
Some people drive aggressively because they have too much to do and are “running late” for work, school, their next meeting, lesson, soccer game, or other appointment.
A motor vehicle insulates the driver from the world. Shielded from the outside environment, a driver can develop a sense of detachment, as if an observer of their surroundings, rather than a participant. This can lead to some people feeling less constrained in their behavior when they cannot be seen by others and/or when it is unlikely that they will ever again see those who witness their behavior.
Disregard for Others and For the Law
Most motorists rarely drive aggressively, and some never do. For others, episodes of aggressive driving are frequent, and for a small proportion of motorists it is their usual driving behavior. Occasional episodes of aggressive driving–such as speeding and changing lanes abruptly–might occur in response to specific situations, like when the driver is late for an important appointment, but is not the driver’s normal behavior.
If it seems that there are more cases of rude and outrageous behavior on the road now than in the past, the observation is correct—if for no other reason than there are more drivers driving more miles on the same roads than ever before.
Dealing with Speeding and Aggressive Drivers
Speeding behavior and aggressive drivers may not only affect the speeder—it can also affect other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Here are some tips for encountering speeders on the road:
- If you are in the left lane and someone wants to pass, move over and let them by.
- Give speeding drivers plenty of space. Speeding drivers may lose control of their vehicle more easily.
- Adjust your driving accordingly. Speeding is tied to aggressive driving. If a speeding driver is tailgating you or trying to engage you in risky driving, use judgment to safely steer your vehicle out of the way.
- Call the police if you believe a driver is following you or harassing you.
NHTSA is dedicated to eliminating risky behaviors on our nation’s roads
NHTSA works with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration to provide the roadmap, tools, guidance, and resources for state and local governments to use in designing and applying a balanced and effective speed management program. Speed management involves the following:
- Defining the relationship between speed, speeding, and safety.
- Applying road design and engineering measures to obtain appropriate speeds.
- Setting speed limits that are safe and reasonable.
- Applying enforcement efforts and appropriate technology that effectively target crash-producing speeders and deter speeding.
- Effectively marketing communication and educational messages that focus on high-risk drivers.
- Soliciting the cooperation, support, and leadership of traffic safety stakeholders.
To promote this strategy, NHTSA delivers a Speed Management Program course to state and local jurisdictions. The course uses a multidisciplinary approach to address speeding problems in states and local communities.
NHTSA also provides training to law enforcement officers on the use of speed-measuring devices (i.e., radar and lidar) in order to identify and take enforcement action against speeding drivers.
Finally, NHTSA works with national law enforcement partners, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement to heighten awareness of the speeding problem in the United States and deliver effective enforcement countermeasures to combat it.