For every 1 percent increase in speed, you experience a corresponding accident risk increase of at least 2 percent. Reducing speed by just 1 percent, on the other hand, not only reduces the risk of an accident by 2 percent, it also decreases the risks of an accident with serious injuries by 3 percent and the risk of traffic fatalities by 4 percent.
Unfortunately, all too many drivers on highways and in residential neighborhoods continue to speed. In 2017 alone, speeding accounted for 26 percent of all traffic fatalities, killing more than 9,700 people.
Understanding the potential impact of speeding can help keep you and others on the road with you safer.
Why People Speed
Typically, people speed because they want to reach their destination faster. While drivers know the legal expectation to follow the speed limit in any given area, they may assume that police officers will not catch them or that they can get away with it “just this once.” Several thought processes may contribute to the decision to speed:
- People fail to leave enough time to reach their destination safely. The driver may need to be at work at 8 a.m., with a thirty-minute commute, but scrape out the door at barely 7:30 a.m.—or even a few minutes later. This increases the stress associated with the entire drive, especially if the driver runs into slowed traffic or other hazards along the way. Often, drivers choose to speed in response to that stress, trying to decrease the time needed to reach their destination. Unfortunately, in many cases, speeding does not substantially reduce the time needed to reach the destination. On a street with a speed limit of 65, a driver traveling at 75 miles per hour will shave less than 5 minutes off of a thirty-minute commute—and that assumes that they do not encounter traffic lights and other signals that decrease their speed.
- Drivers become complacent after driving the same route over and over again. The route home from the office becomes so familiar that the driver feels he can get there in his sleep. This complacency may lead to increased rates of speed as the driver feels safer. Unfortunately, in many cases, familiarity does not increase safety. In fact, most residential speeders live near the area where they choose to speed, and 52 percent of accidents occur within five miles of a driver’s home. Drivers who become complacent may also decrease their likelihood of noticing unexpected obstacles in the road around them: workers fixing power lines or cable lines, kids on bicycles, pedestrians, and animals, for example. At high rates of speed, avoiding these obstacles becomes even more difficult.
- Road rage kicks in. Another driver cuts off the first driver in traffic, and the driver feels the need to prove superiority. Poor traffic patterns increase anxiety, and a raging driver feels the need to hit high levels of speed to compensate. Sometimes, a raging driver may choose to speed to catch up with a driver who offends them or to get away from a driver making repeated mistakes. While speeding may temporarily assuage the rage, it may also lead to an accident with serious injuries, especially at high rates of speed.
- The need for speed rises high. High rates of speed can increase adrenaline, which quickly addicts many people. Speeding helps push that adrenaline high, which can make people feel good on a temporary basis. Unfortunately, accidents may bring that high to an abrupt end, especially when they end in injury and death for others on the road. Many people consider speeding culturally acceptable, leading to an increased habit of pushing the speed limit.
- People assume, “Oh, it won’t happen to me.” Many people grow excessively comfortable in their driving abilities over time. They assume that, as a safe driver, they can handle higher rates of speed than the law deems safe. This, “It won’t happen to me!“ mentality creates a sense of overconfidence that often sees drivers racing along at higher rates of speed than they can safely control. Unfortunately, speeding accidents can and do happen to even the safest drivers. Unexpected maneuvers by other vehicles, unforeseen hazards in the road, and even vehicle problems all become increased hazards at high rates of speed, leaving the speeding driver struggling to maintain control of the vehicle.
- Drivers fail to pay attention to their rate of speed. On empty roads, especially late at night, many drivers stop paying attention to the speedometer. Unfortunately, this can quickly lead to steadily increasing speeds, especially after a long time on the road.
- Drugs and alcohol reduce judgment, leading to higher rates of speeding. Even drivers who might not speed under normal circumstances may allow their speed to increase when drunk or under the influence of drugs. Drunk drivers have an inflated sense of self-confidence and a decreased sense of consequences that can cause them to perform more dangerous maneuvers on the road.
- Force of habit leads to speeding through familiar areas. Running late one day, the driver started speeding. When nothing bad happened, they chose to leave a little later the next day and speed again. Over several weeks, speeding became a bad habit that they do not intend to break.
Potential Injuries Caused by Speeding Accidents
Vehicle accidents often cause serious injuries. At higher rates of speed, drivers struggle more to slow and control their vehicles. As a result, these accidents often have increased injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injury sufferers can have their entire lives impacted by the injury. They may struggle with memory problems or fight to perform mental feats that they once considered simple. Individuals with traumatic brain injury may struggle with emotional regulation. Some traumatic brain injury symptoms resolve themselves over time; others may linger for weeks, months, or even years.
- Spinal cord damage. Many victims of car accidents at high rates of speed suffer spinal cord damage. Paralysis may begin at any point in the spine; however, most doctors divide it according to the limbs impacted. Some individuals with spinal cord damage lose mobility below the waist, while others lose mobility starting at the neck. After spinal cord damage, the victim may need significant ongoing medical care and modifications to their home, vehicle, and work. In addition to paralysis, victims with spinal cord damage may suffer herniated discs or whiplash.
- Organ damage. Flying debris, crushing damage, or impact trauma can all cause organ damage. Often, accident victims at high rates of speed suffer symptoms that last for years.
- Amputations. Sometimes, accident victims suffer amputation during the accident itself or as rescue workers work to get them out of the vehicle. Other times, doctors deem damage to a limb so severe that they must remove the affected limb. Some amputation victims can use prosthetic devices to help them return to their regular activities; others may find prosthetics uncomfortable or struggle to use them.
- Broken bones. Often, broken bones cause extreme pain and suffering. Some victims may require surgery in order to set bones or repair damage to surrounding tissue. Broken bones require significant healing time.
Often, victims of speeding accidents require ongoing surgeries and treatments to make a full recovery. They may need plastic surgery, long-term hospitalization, and significant physical therapy to help them recover from their injuries.
How to Avoid Speeding Accidents
You do not want to suffer injuries in a speeding accident. The first step? Checking your rate of speed. Make sure you know the speed limit for the area. The speed limit offers valuable guidance about the safe speed for traveling through a given area based on a range of factors, including twists and turns in the road, accommodations for residential areas, and the condition of the road. Several other tactics, however, can help decrease your risk of speeding accidents.
- Plan ahead to leave adequate time to reach your destination. Leave early, if possible. When you have plenty of room in your schedule, you will decrease your odds of speeding to reach your destination on time and even reduce road rage and frustration. By checking your schedule and allowing adequate time to reach your destination, you will find that speeding becomes less necessary.
- Get out of the way of speeding drivers. If you notice another driver speeding, you may suffer the temptation to get in the way to slow them down. Unfortunately, this simply increases your risk of suffering an accident—not to mention increasing the other driver’s frustration and potentially making them speed more in the future. If possible, get out of the way of speeding drivers. Let the police take care of them while you focus on keeping yourself and your passengers safe.
- Allow yourself plenty of following room. Watch the flow of traffic around you, and follow the three-second rule. After the car in front of you passes a landmark on the road—a sign or tree, for example—it should take you three seconds to reach the same landmark. If it takes less time, you have grown too close to the car in front of you. Adequate following room should actually allow space for another car to merge in front of you in traffic, especially on highways and other busy, fast-paced roads.
- Think it through. Will speeding really get you to your destination that much faster? Often, you may find that speeding saves you no more than a couple of minutes. Ultimately, speeding offers far more risk than gain. Before allowing your speed to drift higher, carefully think through what those higher speeds may mean.
- Install an app on your phone. Some insurance companies offer safe driver discounts that track your speed based on the speed limit of the area and reward safe driving. Not only can you save money with this strategy, it can help teach safer driving behavior, especially if you struggle with a distraction that causes your speed to creep up. The more you use the app and see your rates of speed, the better you can control your speed.
- Change your habits. Do you catch yourself speeding on a regular basis? If you fight to control your rate of speed, you may find it difficult to break the habit. Fortunately, you can change your habits to make yourself a safer driver. Try some of these strategies:
- Make a habit of looking at speed limit signs every time you pass them. Compare your speed to the speed limit. If you find yourself traveling over the speed limit, reduce your speed.
- Create a habit of checking your speedometer regularly, rather than checking out while you drive. Associate it with another action to help increase the odds that you will slow down.
- Pay attention to your triggers. What causes you to want to speed? Do you go faster when you run late or when you have an important appointment? Are there road rage triggers that make you more likely to speed? Get to know those triggers so you can avoid speeding and the associated consequences.
Speeding Car Accident Statistics in King County
Why You Need an Attorney After a Speeding Accident
Speeding accidents can cause significant injuries, leaving you struggling with funds and fighting to return to your normal life. Do you need an attorney? There are several benefits to working with a lawyer after a speeding accident:
- A lawyer can help negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Often, a lawyer is able to significantly increase the compensation you receive for your injuries. Even simply knowing that you have a lawyer may influence the insurance company’s initial offer.
- A lawyer can provide you with valuable advice that will help prevent you from making mistakes as you file and wait for your claim. Do you know, for example, what you should and should not post on social media? How to properly issue a statement about your accident? Talk with a lawyer to receive these benefits.
- A lawyer can help decrease your stress levels as you wait for your claim. You already have enough to worry about, between dealing with your injuries and struggling through time off work. With a lawyer, you can decrease your stress levels and let them handle many of the important details of your claim.
Call Boohoff Law When You Suffer a Car Accident Injury
If you suffered injuries in a car accident involving speeding, contact Boohoff Law, P.A., today at (877) 999-9999. We will help you better understand your rights and how to proceed with your claim following a speeding accident.
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