Most of us have done it. Especially when we are running late for work or an event, the temptation is strong to press the gas pedal a little harder and “make up some time” by ignoring the speed limit and driving faster than we should. But shaving a few minutes off your arrival time is definitely not worth the very real possibility of getting into a crash.
Speeding causes approximately one-third of all traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The faster a person is driving, the more difficult it is for them to stop. Rushing to get to your destination puts your own life, and the lives of those you’re sharing the road with, in danger.
Whatever the reason for speeding, the numbers don’t lie: the NHTSA reports that in 2017, speeding was the cause of over 9,700 deaths. Speed limits are posted for a reason – to keep drivers safe.
Traffic Fatalities on the Rise
Despite a drop in roadway travel last year due to the pandemic, traffic fatalities actually increased nationally. According to the National Safety Council’s (NSC) preliminary estimates, the estimated rate of road deaths increased last year 24% over the previous 12-month period, despite miles driven dropping 13%. This increase in the death rate is the highest estimated year-over-year jump NSC has calculated in 96 years.
Coming up on July 11 – 17 is the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Operation Safe Driver Week. This year’s focus is on speeding.
During Operation Safe Driver Week, law enforcement personnel will be on the lookout for commercial motor vehicle drivers and passenger vehicle drivers engaging in risky driving behaviors such as reckless or aggressive driving, distracted driving, following too closely, improper lane changes, failure to obey traffic control devices, failure to use a seat belt, evidence of drunk or drugged driving, and of course, speeding. Identified unsafe drivers will be pulled over and issued a citation or warning.
What Makes Speeding So Dangerous?
When drivers travel at unsafe speeds, several dangerous things can happen. Let’s take a closer look at the variety of reasons why speeding is a reckless and risky driving behavior:
Drivers can lose control of the vehicle
The faster a driver goes, the easier it becomes to lose control of the car. This is especially true when the road changes abruptly or during inclement weather. Adjusting to curves or sudden objects in the road becomes difficult, if not impossible, when speeding.
Reaction time is reduced
Speeding does not allow for the proper time to react to sudden obstacles or other dangerous situations, as it reduces the time the driver has to take note of his or her surroundings before an issue is upon them. Braking distance is reduced drastically at excessive speeds.
Crashes are more severe
How fast a driver is going can literally mean the difference between life and death in a car crash. The faster one drives, the more damage there will be should an accident occur. Additionally, the resulting injuries to those involved will be more severe.
Follow the 4-Second Rule for Safe Driving
Most drivers don’t allow for enough distance between themselves and other cars to be able to safely avoid a crash in case of a sudden braking or accident in front of them. What may seem like a safe distance often isn’t enough.
A good rule of thumb is to always keep at least four seconds between you and the nearest vehicle. The faster the speed limit, the more distance this will be.
The next time you are on the road, check yourself to see if you really are keeping a safe distance behind the vehicle ahead of you by picking a signpost or other marker ahead. As soon as the vehicle ahead of you passes that landmark, begin counting, “One Mississippi, two Mississippi…”
Did you reach that marker in less than four seconds? Back off a bit, slow down and give yourself more space. In case of inclement weather, you will want to increase this distance even further and slow down even more to compensate for slick and slippery roads.
Comprehensive Driver Training from DriveTeam
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