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Speeding is a factor in a quarter of all fatal traffic crashes


It’s easy to get angry when someone passes you at a high rate of speed. Don’t they know how dangerous their behavior is? The greater the speed at which a wreck occurs, the more likely that wreck is to be deadly.

At the same time, speeding is one of the most common traffic violations. Drivers even feel pressured by other motorists to speed up a little. That could be deadly.

Speeding, which the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) defines as “exceeding the posted speed limit, driving too fast for conditions, or racing,” can be more dangerous than many people think.

The good news in traffic safety is that the traffic fatality rate has been dropping. This is in part due to more use of seat belts, less drunk driving and improvements in safety technology. Nevertheless, speeding was a factor in 25% of all fatal crashes in 2018. That year, 9,148 people died in crashes in which speed was a major factor.

Most people are tempted to go a few miles above the posted limit. It’s even more common for people to drive too fast for the road conditions, whether that means the weather or traffic conditions. Is speeding really that dangerous?

It can be on its own, but it’s even more dangerous when it becomes a part of overall aggressive driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as, “”committing a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.”

Aggressive driving can include speeding, but also other behaviors, such as:

  • Running red lights
  • Failing to yield
  • Following too closely
  • Improper passing

We all recognize these drivers. They dart in and out of the lane, jockeying for position. They don’t give other drivers the courtesy of allowing them into a lane, or they follow so closely you’re not sure there’s a foot of space between their car and your bumper.

Is aggressive driving dangerous? You bet.

What can be done about speeding and aggressive driving?

The GHSA, an organization of state highway safety officials, recommends data-driven enforcement, public information and education programs and enhanced enforcement in school and work zones.

The group also recommends that NHTSA sponsor a national, high-visibility enforcement campaign, promote best practices in automated enforcement, and host a national forum about combatting speeding and aggressive driving. Experts should get together and develop a shared action plan.

What do you think could be done to combat speeding?