Excessive Speed Is A Factor In One Third Of All Fatal Crashes

Excessive Speed Is A Factor In One Third Of All Fatal Crashes

The economic cost to US society of speeding-related crashes is estimated at $27.7 billion per year.
In 1998, nearly 42,000 people were killed in traffic crashes and almost 3.2 million more were injured, at a cost of over $150 billion. Speed - defined as exceeding the posted speed limit or driving too fast for conditions - is a factor in nearly one third of all fatal crashes. Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that when speed limits were raised by many states in 1996, travel speeds increased and motor vehicle fatalities went up significantly on Interstate highways in those states.

Speed reduces the amount of available time needed to avoid a crash, increases the likelihood of crashing and increases the severity of a crash once it occurs. The public needs to be made more aware of the dangers of speeding. If we are to combat this dangerous, life-threatening behavior, we must devote increased resources to better enforcement, including more law enforcement officers to patrol the highways, and we must support technological advances, such as video cameras, to target aggressive, speeding drivers.


  • Speed was a factor in 30 percent (12,477) of all traffic fatalities in 1998, second only to alcohol (39 percent) as a cause of fatal crashes.
  • (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, 1999)
  • In 1998, 40,000 people were critically injured in speeding-related crashes, 72,000 were moderately injured and 599,000 received minor injuries. (NHTSA, 1999)
  • The economic cost to society of speeding-related crashes is estimated at $27.7 billion per year. (NHTSA, 1999)
  • Crash forces on impact double with every 10 mile per hour increase in speed above 50 miles per hour. As crash forces increase, so does one�s chances of being killed or seriously injured in a crash. (NHTSA, 1995)
  • Young drivers (under 30 years old) are more likely to speed than other drivers. Of all drivers involved in fatal crashes, young males are most likely to speed. The relative proportion of speeding-related fatal crashes decreases with increasing driver age. (NHTSA, 1999)
  • Alcohol involvement and speeding often go hand-in-hand. In 1998, 43 percent of drivers with a 0.10 BAC or higher who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared with 14 percent of the sober (0.00 BAC) drivers in fatal crashes. (NHTSA, 1999)


  • Travel speeds increased on Interstate highways in the states that raised their speed limits after Congress repealed the National Maximum Speed Limit in 1995. Increased travel speeds historically have led to increased traffic fatalities. (IIHS, 1999)
  • In the 24 states that raised their speed limits in late 1995 and in 1996, fatalities on Interstate highways increased 15 percent. Deaths on other roadways where speed limits were not raised were unchanged. (IIHS, 1998)
  • The increased fatalities and fatality rates on Interstates where speed limits were raised translates to approximately 450-500 additional deaths a year on Interstate highways and freeways. (IIHS, 1998)
  • As of October 1999, 28 states have raised speed limits to 70 MPH or higher on portions of their roads and highways. (IIHS, 1999)
  • In a public opinion poll conducted by Louis Harris for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in May 1996, 64 percent of those polled said they were concerned that higher speed limits would contribute to even more aggressive driving. Sixty-six percent were concerned that highway crashes would rise again, and 52 percent were concerned that they will feel unsafe on the highways because drivers would go "much faster," exceeding even the posted limits.
    percentageof death for Excessive Speed by chart & graph
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These numbers should be thoroughly investigated. One third of all accidents are caused by speed. The true figures appear to be 5 per cent.If the nut behind the wheel is stupid enough to go racing, surely it is stupidity rather than speed? And if statistics are written by a road side traffic policemen who isnt versed in accident investigations, and he mentions speed only without proper investigation, then it may be a statistic which is inaccurate when its entered into the books. It could be the road is only suitable for a certain speed, and its road conditions. Statistics at the moment favor speed cameras, as they have entered the statistics and are loving it.

To say that speed is a contributing factor in 5 percent of all crashes is ignorant. When investigating a fatal accident, police have an accident reconstruction team. They run the numbers and actually replay the accident after they're done, and yes, most times speed is a factor, because a fatality would not occur at 10 miles per hour when hitting a parked car now would it? and there's no way any cop could say 'well...this man was known to have been a complete idiot.'

Wouldn't it be nice if statistics were 100% reliable?... one of the problems with statistics is the variants involved. weather conditions, etc... i carpool with my co-worker to work and he insists on driving 45mph in a 60mph speed-zone for 30 miles to and from work... impeding traffic and causing everyone we encounter on the road to pass him. he brags about how he's never had a ticket, but i've constantly argued that by forcing people to pass him that it's just as dangerous to go 15 under as it is over.
the statistics shown here state that speeding is 1/3 the cause of all wrecks... but what they don't say is how many of those speeding were drunk and/or how many were speeding (which there's an asterisk on the state's websites stating "going above speed for weather conditions") meaning they count crashes where someone is going the speed limit, but on an icy road (like a fool).
they do say that drunk people are the majority (which they are) but the statistics always favor the author or authorities ;) . Google "motorcycle fatality statistics" for example, you'll find statistics showing that if you own a crotch-rocket that you won't live over a week, yet when you look at the real statistics and testimonials it shows us rocketeers are still alive and well. like me :)

There is a difference between speed being a 'contributing factor' and speed being 'the main cause'. The five percent sounds like the statistic where speed is the main cause, while the one-third sounds more where speed is a contributing factor.

Anyway, I have a hard time believing speed statistics from government sources. For example, when the National Maximum Speed Limit was established (which, by the way, was a violation of the 10th amendment), advocates crowed when there were less traffic fatalities the following year. However, when deeper investigation was done, it turned out that the energy crisis of that time caused less miles to be driven and it turns out that Americans driving less miles, NOT the reduced speed, was the major factor in the reduction of traffic fatalities.

I cannot believe that a person is so naive as to think that speed is not involved in 30% of all fatal accidents. Drive on a California freeway at 65 mph and you will be all but runover by the idiot in the car passing you at 90 mph.
Very few of these people are able to handle an emergency situation at that speed. Recently, a 19 year old boy was killed speeding on a city street, his motto on his website was 'Floor It'
Its about time we crack down on serial speeders like we crack down on drivers under the influence of alcohol

Floor it? Now thats dangerous.
Ignorant? Me? The facts are IN! Speed is a factor but not the cause of accidents.
English statistics, flagrantly flaunted were found that 5% were involving excessive speed. I did not grab that number out of midair. More accidents are caused by inattentive driving and moronic attitudes.
So its attitudes we need to change, and while so much money is being gathered by booking people who sometimes go a little over the limit, through no fault of their own, that not likely to happen. Especially as it seems financially interested parties are also commenting here.

looky here i dont really drive that often but i can tell all of your that speeding is a great factor in what everybody does we speed when we are happy mad and sad it's not just people speeding for the heck of it it has true meaning behind it i'm done commenting

Lets get something strait. If the maximum speed limit is say 75 mph, then why is it that DOT rubber stamps vehicles that roll off the assembly line at 2- 3 times the max.?
We need to be proactive about this because it is our tax dollars that pay for enforcement,emergency response,hospital bugets,infrastructure repairs, fuel prices,insurance rates,pollution......etc etc.

For a long time one of my pet peeves is why do they manufacture vehicles equipped to go way over legal speed limits. It makes no sense especially seeing how high statistics for fatal accidents are. Where are we supposed to drive a vehicle capable of going 120 mph legally? Besides saving lives would also on fuel consumption, insurance, tax dollars for law enforcement including dangerous high speed chases.

Where I live it's like NASCAR compared to the posted speed limits. The true cause to all of it is the go with the flow policy that's been socially accepted. A phenomenon that I've noticed is that whenever the police are on the road the speeders slow down. However, if the police break the speed limit as well the speeders match it, but don't pass it. Zero self control unless the parent is around. That's what it reminds me of.

Common excuses that I've read and heard are things like: I'm late, I didn't notice, and the crowd favorite, I was going with the flow of traffic. Anyone like myself who actually follows the speed limits (even when alone on the road) should stand strong and continue being independent, responsible adults. Anyone who does the opposite should do research on all the cons of speeding and do the math regarding how much it actually puts you ahead of the non-speeders. A few cons off the top of my head would be increased gas used, increased braking, and reckless endangerment of human life. Think for yourselves people or continue thinking for yourselves.

Slow drivers kill. EVERY PERSON COMMENTING HERE THAT IS IN FAVOR OF SLOWER DRIVING. Guess what? They sure are aware of everyone else driving. They are going 60MPH but they take the time to gauge the speeders speed, the exact place they saw people speeding. I wouldn't be surprised if they take the time to find a pen and paper going 60MPH to get the guys license plate. The one thing they are NOT doing. Focusing on there own driving. FOCUS, IMPROVE YOUR OWN driving skills. Stop worrying and deciding what other people need to be doing. Be a good person and live well. That does not mean sticking your nose in everyone else business. Slow drivers worrying too much about what OTHER people are doing are the reason some poor guy didn't make it to the hospital on time to say goodbye to a parent or a friend. Or the reason some guy running to catch the bus gets hit. Because they are busy looking around everywhere instead of looking at the road.

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