On July 5, a Brooklyn woman at a crosswalk died after a speeding car beat the red light and rammed into another vehicle, which slammed the 58-year-old into the pavement. The death is tragic, but it remains common in the United States, no thanks to speeding.
The Numbers on Speeding
Speeding, or going beyond the recommended vehicle speed limit, is a major risk factor for traffic-related injuries and deaths, although statistics revealed that the fatality rate already dropped from 2010 to 2018.
However, it’s still responsible for 26% of road deaths in the latter year. During this period, nearly 10,000 people died or 25 per day.
Speeding is also a common cause of injuries and death for both cyclists and pedestrians. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), over 6,000 people suffered the same fate as the Brooklyn woman in 2018.
In the same year, nearly 900 cyclists also perished. This then made the year the deadliest for both road users over the last thirty years. ;
The data from Injury Facts showed a correlation between speeding and age. Most of those involved in speeding that resulted in a fatality were between 15 and 34 years old. However, men were likely to find themselves in such a situation regardless of their age group.
What Causes Speeding?
Speeding happens for many reasons, but knowing the root cause can reduce these violations:
1. Lack of or Improper Equipment
The right police speed gun can spell the difference between life and death. Modern units are more accurate. For example, they have a narrower beam, so law enforcement can identify the exact speeding vehicle.
Other options are portable, so they’re more convenient to carry while some can already take photos. The latter feature can make speed detection not only easier but also cheaper if the station cannot afford a speed camera.
2. Road Conditions
The Injury Facts revealed that speeding is a risk factor for fatalities across various road conditions. It was responsible for over 40% of deaths in ice, mud, gravel, or dirt. It caused death for over 15% of drivers traversing dry and wet roads.
Sometimes speeding violations happen because drivers don’t pay attention to road conditions. A speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour on a dry road can already be dangerous if ice or slush covers the street.
3. Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Also known as impaired driving, driving under the influence kills at least 29 people daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The annual costs of these crashes could reach over $40 billion.
Impaired driving caused over 17% of traffic-related deaths involving minors or children in 2016, although the substance that leads to DUI can vary. Alcohol drinking is still one of the leading risk factors, but marijuana use is catching up, especially among nighttime and weekend truck drivers.
Driving to beat the rush hour or getting stuck in congestion can also be a recipe for vehicle crashes because of speeding, according to the NHTSA. These conditions can increase the odds of risky and aggressive behavior:
- Running against the red light
- Changing lanes frequently
- Constantly honking on other drivers
- Disregarding traffic laws
- Losing awareness of other road users
In a 2019 research, the University of Waterloo researchers revealed that speeding is one of the best predictors for vehicle crashes. The more the United States can bring the rates down, the more it keeps the road safer for everyone.