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Speeding in motor vehicle accidents and severe injuries

How does speeding contribute to motor vehicle accidents and more severe injuries?

Speed limits are set in an attempt to limit the speed of traffic, with the intent to improve traffic safety and reduce the number of car accident fatalities. Speeding is defined as driving in excess of the speed limit. 90% of all licensed drivers speed at some point in their driving careers, and 75% admit to speeding regularly.

Different factors contribute to the speed of a vehicle, such as:

  1. Driver-related factors – age, gender, number of passengers, and alcohol level
  2. Road and vehicle factors – road design, vehicle power, and maximum speed
  3. Traffic and environment – number of cars around the vehicle and weather

Speeding has been identified as a causal factor in about 40% of fatal car accidents and an aggravating factor in the severity of all accidents. Lower speed limits mean fewer car accident fatalities. In the 1970's, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that by lowering the speed limit from 70 mph to 55 mph, traffic accident fatalities decreased by 16.4%. In 1987, when the U.S. increased the speed limit to 65 mph, there was an increase in fatalities of 17%. In 2009, the American Journal of Public Health found that there was an increase of 3.2% of accident fatalities attributable to increased speed limits on all road types.

As the speed of a vehicle increases, so does the driver's reaction and braking time. Reaction time is how long a driver takes to see a hazard and react to it. Braking distance is the distance a vehicle needs in order to come to a complete stop.

As you can imagine, as personal injury lawyers, speeding is a factor in many of the cases we see. The average time it takes most drivers to react to a dangerous situation is 1.5 seconds. A driver who is tired or distracted (such as using a cell phone or under the influence of drugs or alcohol) may take up to 3 seconds to react. Speeding also contributes to increased risk of losing control of a vehicle. At higher speeds, cars are more difficult to maneuver. For example, a 30% increase in speed more than doubles the probability of an accident. If a driver is traveling at 30 mph, there is enough time to come to a stop to avoid hitting a child 45 feet away, but if the driver is traveling at 35 mph, there is not enough time to come to a complete stop, thereby hitting the child.

Controlling vehicle speed can prevent crashes from happening and can reduce the severity of injury when they do occur. There are several effective ways to go about controlling vehicle speed:

  • Setting and enforcing speed limits - speed limits are ineffective without visible enforcement
  • Posting speed limits that vary based on weather conditions – these will inform drivers how to adjust their speed
  • Road design and maintenance – carpool lanes and high speed lanes increase traffic flow, rotaries and speed humps reduce speed levels
  • Vehicle design – limits on speed of vehicles

Of course, if you've been injured as a restult of a car accident, get the medical attention you need and speak with a personal injury attorney at your earliest opportunity. Call Mass Injury Firm, P.C. today and get your free case assessment by a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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