Fast and Furious: The Problems of Speeding in Utah in 2016

As mentioned in other articles in this series, speeding is the leading cause of death in Utah accidents.  Speeding is classified as an unsafe driving behavior.  It contributes to various problems and ultimately puts drivers in precarious circumstances.  Of the many contributors to crashes, a speed-related accident is 2.7 times more likely to be fatal than other types of accidents.  One reason for this is the sheer physics of the situation.  A car traveling at 85 MPH is more likely to result in severe injuries to car occupants than a vehicle that is driving 60 MPH.  The forces acting on the car are more considerable.  

Speeding affects everyone on the road, not simply the person who is speeding.  In 2016, there were 11,508 speed-related crashes.  These crashes resulted in 5,550 people injured and 105 deaths.  The 105 deaths out of the 281 during 2016 makes speed a factor in 38 percent of fatal accidents.  One must wonder what percentage of these deaths was someone who was not speeding being hit by someone who was speeding.  The UDOT Crash Summary also notes that speed-related fatal crashes were more likely to be driving above the marked speed limit by higher amounts.  

Speeding is dangerous for everyone involved because it will magnify a driver’s mistakes.  Everything you do when driving fast becomes amplified.  For example, just a slight tug to the right on the steering wheel can cause a driver to plunge into a completely different lane.  This phenomenon would not happen while driving at a slower speed.  It decreases the vehicles overall stability.  Speeding also gives a driver less time to react to what is going on around him/her.  For instance, if there is suddenly an object that comes into the driver’s path, he/she has to make then a split-second decision on how to avoid such an obstruction.  Driving too fast also reduces a driver’s ability to navigate around curves safely.  Speeding requires a greater distance to stop the vehicle, which can, subsequently decrease the beneficial effects of features like seatbelts.    

Speeding does not reduce the stresses of modern life.  Life seems to get busier and busier.  There seems to be an endless list of things to do, places to be, people to see, etc.  But speeding can only increase the stress in one’s life.  Speeding increases overall crash numbers and increases crash severity.  When people are involved in a serious accident, this only makes their life more stressful by adding things about which they have to worry and think.  

The chart presented on the right (courtesy of UDOT’s 2016 Crash Summary) demonstrates the number of speed-related crashes by travel speed.  A large number of fatal crashes occur at speeds between 60-80 miles per hour.  

Speeding is a type of aggressive driving behavior.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identifies several factors that contribute to this behavior:

  • Traffic congestion.  People will respond to heavy traffic by speeding, changing lanes, or getting angry when they think someone has stalled their progress.
  • Running late.  When someone is late for work, school, meetings, lessons, games, etc.  they respond by trying to arrive at the appointment faster by speeding.
  • Anonymity.  A driver of a car can feel insulated from the outside world.  The car functions as a sort of private space.  Although there are windows, a driver can feel a sense of security while in their car.  This feeling can cause a sense of detachment from surroundings.  Also, someone is more inclined to behave in a certain way if they believe they will never see the individual again.  
  • Disregard for others and the law.  Majority of drivers do not drive aggressively on a regular basis.  For some people, speeding might be a response to a specific set of circumstances.  However, it might seem that many people are behaving this way because there are more and more drivers driving more miles on the same roads than in years past.  The NHTSA points out that “it seems that there are more cases of rude and outrageous behavior on the road now than in the past.”

 

The list presented above gives many behaviors that each driver should be inclined to avoid.  For example, don’t spend your commute thinking about how you will never see these people again.  This thought is unproductive and can induce behavior that is not safe. Speeding is a dangerous activity that doesn’t only affect you; it affects everyone on the road.  Help make the road safer by not speeding.  

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