A recent report from the National Transportation Safety Board reinforced the long-held notion that speeding is dangerous. That conclusion isn’t likely to turn many heads, but the board draws a parallel between speeding and drunk driving that opens an interesting discussion.
According to research from the NTSB, from 2005 to 2014, speeding led to 112,580 passenger vehicle highway crash fatalities. Drunk driving was linked to 112,948 over the same period. As the NTSB points out, drunk driving is highly stigmatized in the United States, while speeders are often less scrutinized by society and law enforcement.
Speeding is More Complex Than Most Realize
Perhaps one reason that we think of speeding differently than drunk driving is that speeding is not as clearly defined. Drunk driving, in most cases, is defined by the blood alcohol content of the driver – 0.08 percent or greater. For commercial drivers and teens, the limit is lower in most states.
However, the term “speeding” is more vague. Most people think of speeding as exceeding a posted speed limit, and that is certainly true. But speeding can also be defined as driving too fast for the conditions of the road, including weather, traffic congestion, etc.
It might seem harsh that drivers can be considered speeders if they are driving under the speed limit, but it makes sense. Anyone who has driven on an icy road or through a torrential downpour knows drivers must adjust their driving habits according to the conditions they face.
Raising Awareness of Speeding as a Public Hazard
When someone fails to make the necessary adjustments to their driving habits, they are endangering others. The report from NTSB rightly points out that we should place a greater emphasis on the perils of driving too fast. We must also broaden our understanding of what it means to be speeding if we are to address the problem.
The NTSB has made several recommendations to government agencies that include greater enforcement of speeding violations, increased public awareness and better reporting and information gathering. The board reminds us that the faster a person is driving, the greater the likelihood of being involved in a crash, and the more severe the injuries of occupants of vehicles in collisions.
There is much that lawmakers and vehicle manufacturers can do to reduce the number of speeding-related crashes in the United States. Drivers, too, can do their part to drive responsibly and place a greater emphasis on maintaining a safe speed at all times.
Having a tendency to drive fast isn’t the same as getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. But the research from the NTSB indicates the overall impact on crash-related fatalities is the same. With the number of vehicle fatalities in the United States on the rise in the last two years, it’s well worth all our efforts to improve road safety.
The Law Offices of John R. Colvin focus primarily in the areas of Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, Workers’ Compensation, and Social Security Disability. They represent clients in the Tennessee Valley region, including Tennessee and Alabama.