Excessive speeding is, of course, dangerous. No one can refute that fact. But if you think that speeding only means going excessively over the speed limit, think again! Exceeding the speed limit by only five or ten miles per hour can make a life-or-death difference in a car crash. Imagine hitting ice on a curve in the road and being unable to regain control of your car because you were speeding - and going just over the safe speed limit. It can really make a difference in the safe handling of your vehicle, and in your ability to brake effectively when you need to.
Three percent of all accident fatalities in 2015 (the most recent year reporting is available) were caused due to speeding. That means that 274 people were killed in accidents where speeding was the cause of the accident. Two-hundred seventy-four individuals - mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters - lost their lives because they were in a hurry, or were exceeding the speed limit for other reasons. It’s also interesting to note that those most likely to speed are male drivers between the ages of 15 and 20. They make up 39% of the fatalities that occurred in 2015 due to speeding.
If you’ve been injured in an accident that involved speeding, you know what it can do to your life. You know how devastating it can be. So how can we avoid speeding, or driving around those that are speeding?
First, think about why people exceed the speed limit. They usually:
The three-second rule is a way to gauge the distance you have between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. It is one of the most effective ways to prevent accidents due to not being able to stop fast enough when the car in front of you stops suddenly. If you tend to be a “tailgater”, this technique can help you keep a safer distance between vehicles.
Here’s how to do it: First, pick out something in the distance while you’re driving - a parked car, telephone pole, something stationary - and make a mental note of when the car in front of you passes it. As the car passes the object, begin counting in seconds. If your car passes the object before you’ve counted out three seconds, that means you’re following too closely. Find another object and try it again, this time slowing down a little. Of course, don’t let this exercise distract you so much that you can’t drive safely. But it is a good gauge of proper distance between cars.
If you typically run late, set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier. Prepare in advance to leave earlier so that you have more driving time. Expect the unexpected. Do whatever you can to ensure that you will not be running late. When you do this, you’ll be sure you have plenty of time to drive safely to your destination, and you’ll avoid all the dangers associated with exceeding the speed limit.
This is especially important if there is inclement weather. You’ll need a lot more driving time if it’s raining heavily, snowing, foggy, or there are icy roads. Any of these situations increase the incidence of accidents when you’re NOT speeding. Being in a hurry combined with bad weather and/or road conditions is a recipe for absolute disaster.
From a logical perspective, does exceeding the speed limit by ten miles an hour really get you to your destination sooner? Let’s say you’re traveling sixty miles to your destination, and the speed limit is 60 miles per hour. You will get there in about an hour if you follow the speed limit. But let’s say you go faster - say, 80 miles per hour. You’re really only saving a few minutes of travel time, and you’re risking your own life, the safety and lives of those in your vehicle, and the safety and lives of those who are driving on the road with you. Is it truly worth it to save just a few minutes?
We all know what it’s like to be behind a slowpoke driver. You think, “maybe if I get really close, they’ll get the hint and speed up”. However, that’s rarely the case, right? Practicing patience with other drivers is essential to decreasing your chance of having an accident caused by speeding. If you frequently travel roads that challenge your patience, find another route that doesn’t. Alternatively, change your mindset. Enjoy the ride, even if it’s going slower than you’d like. Put on some music you enjoy, or listen to an audiobook as you drive. Find ways to calm yourself while you drive, and you’ll be an overall safer driver, no matter what speed you’re driving at.
Increased patience combined with realistic thinking and allowing yourself more time to reach your destination is a great combination. This combination will help you drive safely, arrive safely, and experience less stress while you’re on the road.