Speeding is one of the most common aggressive driving behaviors. It’s also one of the deadliest. Over the past five years, speed has been a contributing factor in an average of more than 9,000 crashes in Maryland annually, accounting for 16% of all crash-related fatalities in the state. These crashes were preventable. All drivers should understand the implicit danger of speeding. So, why do people still speed? And what exactly makes speeding so dangerous?
Why Do People Speed?
Many drivers travel faster than the speed limit out of habit, especially when traveling familiar roadways. These drivers view the posted limit as a suggestion, rather than the law. If the road is open in front of them, they are inclined to increase their speed.
This is one of the most common excuses law enforcement officers hear when they pull drivers over for speeding. Ironically, getting pulled over for a traffic violation, or worse causing a crash, is not only going to ruin their day but will slow them down far more than driving at a safe speed. When you factor in the reality that speeding only minimally decreases travel time, it simply isn’t worth the potential cost.
To Get Past Traffic
Some drivers believe that speeding and aggressive lane changes will help them avoid traffic congestion, when instead it often slows them down. Such aggressive tactics can intimidate other drivers, causing them to brake or causing a crash.
This is another common reason people speed, though many will not admit it. These motorists believe they have superior driving skills and posted speed limits apply only to those who don’t know how to handle their vehicles. Speeders put themselves and everyone else on the road at risk.
Why Speeding is Dangerous
Disregard of Safety Recommendations
Posted speed limits are not arbitrary. They are the result of specific recommendations from safety engineers who consider decades of data on factors that contribute to crashes. Some of these include road capacity, lane width, the number of intersections and the straightness of the road. As a driver, it’s unlikely you are considering the same factors as experts. A curve might be sharper than you realize or there may be a pedestrian crossing around the bend.
Deviation from the Prevailing Speed
One of the biggest predictors of crashes is deviation from the prevailing speed. Posted speed limits are meant to define the prevailing speed, so they should always be your guide – and going much faster (or slower) than the surrounding traffic significantly increases the risk of crashing. So, if other cars drive slowly due to traffic or bad weather, driving the posted speed limit may be too fast.
Loss of Reaction Time and Increased Stopping Distance
Stopping distance breaks down into the distance your car travels as you 1) notice the obstacle, 2) react by braking or steering out of the way, and 3) bring the car to a complete stop. The faster you’re traveling, the less time you have to react, and the greater distance your car will travel before finally stopping. If you’re speeding, by the time you notice the obstacle it might be too late to prevent a crash.
Higher Speeds Mean Deadlier Crashes
Higher speeds mean your car will crash with greater force. While the safety features in your vehicle are designed to absorb the force of impact on your body, they have limitations. In a low-speed crash, your seat belt and airbags may provide enough protection to walk away with only minor bumps and bruises. At high speed, the same crash could be permanently disabling or deadly. In some cases, the difference in severity of a crash is a matter of the angle and point of impact. Speeding increases your chances of losing control of your vehicle as you try to avoid an obstacle.
Aggressive Drivers are Dangerous
Speeding is one of the hallmark behaviors of aggressive driving. Do you speed or exhibit other common aggressive driving behaviors? If so, it’s not too late to modify your behavior. You just might save someone’s life, or your own.