Study Finds Aggressive Driving is a Factor in At Least 50% of All Motor Vehicle Accidents
Speeding is a common, deadly behavior in the United States. According to a news article posted on natlawreview.com, a federal study found that two-thirds of all motor vehicles in the study exceeded the posted speed limit. On highways, about one in five exceeded the speed limit by 10 miles per hour or more. The study's results matched the results of a similar study completed six years ago. This means that the increase in law enforcement crackdowns and public awareness campaigns has not slowed down the issue of speeding.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) describes "aggressive driving" as a driver who engages in several driving offenses in such a way that other motorists and property are endangered on a roadway. A study performed by the American Automobile Association (AAA) states that aggressive driving is a factor in 56 percent of fatal car accidents. The study examined the past four years of crash data. Moreover, excessive speed was the most common traffic offense perpetrated by aggressive motorists.
The report also states that drivers who engage in any traffic violation can cause an accident, but drivers who commit multiple traffic offenses pose a heightened danger to other motorists. The following is a list of the most common traffic violations perpetrated by aggressive drivers:
- Improper turns
- Speeding / Street racing
- Road Rage
- Unsafe lane changes
- Illegal passing
- Failure to use a turning signal
- Failing to yield the right of way
In the AAA study referenced previously, speeding was the number one cause of fatal accidents. Another car accident study discovered that speeding caused approximately 17% of all fatal accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that traffic congestion often rouses aggressive driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that aggressive drivers typically zigzag or speed through traffic congestion, and they become enraged at other drivers who meddle with their dangerous behavior.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study, around 37,000 people have been tragically killed due to increasing speed limits. Currently, 42 states have a maximum speed limit of 70 mph, while some states have maximum speed limits of 75 or 80 mph. Texas has a maximum speed limit of 85 mph, the IIHS reports. IIHS also reports that minor increases in posted speed limits negatively impact accident fatality rates. For example, motor vehicle crashes are survivable at 40 mph. However, car accidents at 50 mph are often fatal.
IIHS Vice President for Research and Statistical Services Charles Farmer examined the impact of changes to the maximum posted speed limit from 1993 to 2017. The study analyzed the annual traffic fatalities per mile traveled and considered other factors such as changes in unemployment, seat belt usage, and the number of young drivers. Mr. Farmer discovered that a speed limit increase of only 5 MPH caused an eight percent increase in the number of fatalities on highways and interstates. He reported that the increase in fatalities was directly caused by the increase to the maximum speed limits. The survey covered a 25-year period. Mr. Farmer estimated that about five percent of those killed would be alive if the maximum speed limits were not changed. According to Farmer, increasing the speed limit from 65 to 70 saves about "6½ minutes of travel time on a 100-mile trip." Mr. Farmer believes that state lawmakers should weigh the number of lives saved that could be saved by returning to a 65 MPH maximum speed limit.
IIHS President David Harkey states that around 10,000 people a year are tragically killed in speeding-related accidents. Mr. Harkey believes that reducing the speed limit on highways and interstates, increasing police presence, and implementing traffic engineering measures could save lives.
Darrin Grondel, director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and chair of GHSA's Executive Board, states that government officials have lost their sense of limits and that speeding has become a forgotten problem in traffic safety conversations. Mr. Grondel believes that creating a comprehensive speed management program could put their ideas into action and make a difference in our work of saving lives.
According to NSC.org, speeding is a significant cause of traffic fatalities and bodily injuries. The danger of excessive speeding is the decrease in the driver's reaction time, which creates a dangerous situation when the driver attempts to avoid a collision. Speeding increases a vehicle's stopping distance and lessens the effectiveness of road safety structures such as impact attenuators, guardrails, crash cushions, concrete barriers, and median dividers to protect motor vehicle passengers in an accident. NSC.org also states that 26% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2019 were caused by speeding. In 2019, the total number of fatal car accidents caused by speeding was 8,544. An auto accident is classified as a speeding-related accident when the driver is charged with a speeding-related violation, exceeding the posted speed limit, or driving too fast for conditions. The percent of traffic deaths caused by speeding has steadily decreased. The NSC.org states that 32% of all traffic deaths were caused by speeding. Today, that number has fallen to 26%.
Accidents involving high speed tend to produce life-threatening injuries because of the increased forces. Speeding kills about 1,000 people per month in the United States. The most common injuries connected to accidents involving speeding:
- Brain Injuries;
- Broken Bones;
- Cuts & Lacerations;
- Facial Injuries;
- Head Injuries;
- Neck Injuries;
- Spinal Cord Injuries;
- Whiplash; and
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