If we’re honest, most of us would admit to speeding – at least occasionally. Some of us are more prone to speeding on a regular basis than others. Some of us just inch the speedometer up over the limit while others of us fly along paying absolutely no attention to the speedometer. We have so many interesting and creative explanations and excuses for speeding that we have an entire show dedicated to catching and filming “Speeders”. Admittedly, some of their stories are down right hilarious. Of course, it’s not so funny when they are handed a $200 ticket to pay. It’s about that time that most people are asking the question “Don’t the cops have anything better to do?” Shortly followed by “What’s the big deal about speeding anyway – everyone does it?” That, in turn, becomes their defense in court when they challenge the ticket they received. While it may be true that everyone does it, it is not a defense – it’s an excuse. So why is speeding such a big deal? Why does law enforcement spend so much time and money trying to prevent speeders?
The simple answer to that question is because it is dangerous. It may seem like a harmless violation of the law, but in fact it can be the difference between life and death in an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the 1994 (the most recent year statistics were available) cost of speed related accidents was more than $23 billion dollars. Imagine what that figure must be now. Speeding reduces your ability to react quickly to changing road conditions or obstructions in the road. Additionally, the faster you are going, the more time you need to stop if an emergency arises. Statistically speaking, the faster you are going, the more likely you are to be involved in a fatal car crash or one involving serious injuries. The chances of death or serious injury double for every 10 m.p.h. over 50 m.p.h. that a vehicle is traveling. Speed is a factor in about 30% of all fatal car accidents. That percentage goes up to almost 50% when there is snow, slush or ice on the roads. Additionally, speed is a factor in about one-third of all construction zone fatalities. The next time you want to grumble about having to slow down in that construction zone, think of that statistic. For those who think that speeding is only a problem on highways, think again. Almost 90% of all speed related fatalities happen on roads other than interstate highways. Study also show that speed and alcohol consumption frequently go hand in hand making the chance of being involved in fatal crash jump to 50% or higher depending on the age of the driver.
So the next time you see a State Trooper by the side of the road waiting to catch you speeding, try not to get irritated. Not only is he doing his job, he is actually trying to save your life.