What role does speed play in traffic crashes?
SAFE SPEEDS are relative, so each driver must be aware of the current driving conditions and the posted speed limits, which typically are set based on a roadway’s design. Speeding may get you there faster, or it may keep you from getting there at all!
Speed influences traffic crashes in four basis ways:
1. Speed reduces the reaction time drivers need to avoid crashes, which not only increases the likelihood of crashing but also increases its severity.
2. Speed increases the distance needed to stop a vehicle. Speeding drivers may not be able to judge distances accurately, which puts other vehicles and pedestrians at greater risk. Drivers who run red lights are likely to be speeding
3. Higher speeds result in higher risks of injury or death in a traffic crash, because vehicles and their occupants in motion have kinetic energy that is dissipated in a crash.
4. Higher speeds reduce the ability of vehicles and restraint systems to protect occupants. Crash severity increases disproportionately with vehicle speed, so a frontal impact at 35 mph is one-third more violent than one at 30 mph. While drivers of all ages and both sexes speed at one time or another, highspeed drivers tend to be young males. At all ages male drivers are more likely than female drivers to be involved in speed-related fatal crashes.
What is considered a safe speed?
There are several factors that determine a safe speed. A roadway’s design, such as a narrow two-lane byway or a modern controlled highway, whether the surrounding area is urban or rural, current weather conditions, and how well or poorly the road has been maintained all combine to affect safe speeds on a daily or even an hourly basis. Even in the most ideal driving conditions, high speeds can become dangerous.
A driver speeding along on a straight stretch of highway on the south coast might feel that 75 mph is safe – until a cow suddenly appears on the road and the driver has no time to react. Or driver speeding along a similar roadway on the north coast might believe a high speed is safe – until last night’s lack of sleep suddenly overwhelms the driver who nods off for a second and