Speeding is a major factor in many car crashes, especially those that result in fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 10,000 people died in speed-related crashes in 2019 and that more than 25% of accidents involved speeding.
While many drivers may not view speeding as risky as other actions they may take behind the wheel, it can increase the risk of a serious or deadly crash in a number of ways.
Reduced braking time
Drivers who speed may not consider how traveling faster reduces their ability to brake in case of an emergency. For example, drivers exceeding speed limits on a freeway exit may encounter an unexpected bottleneck after they exit but find they cannot stop in time to avoid colliding with the car in front of them.
Greater risk of losing control
When drivers travel faster than posted speed limits, they run a greater risk of losing control of their vehicle. The overall risk is even greater in certain driving situations, including:
- Reduced visibility
- Poor weather conditions
- Areas with hills and blind curves
Speeding in these conditions can contribute to serious accidents, such as rollovers, especially for those who drive SUVs or trucks that are sometimes prone to such events.
Reduced effectiveness of safety equipment
Speeding can cause the safety equipment in some vehicles to fail or operate at reduced effectiveness, which can lead to more serious injures in the event of a crash. Seatbelts and airbags may not prevent the types of trauma common in certain accidents where excessive speed was a contributing factor.
Drivers may speed for a variety of reasons, such as environmental distractions or running late for work. Safety monitors and alertness devices may help motorists maintain a safe speed.