The Need for Speed: Tempting, but Deadly

The reality is that most of us speed while driving at some point. Poll results released in January, 2017, indicated that 65 percent of people admitted to speeding some of the time. In the past, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that 70 percent of all drivers exceed the posted speed limit now and then.

The truth is, speed kills and injures many thousands of innocent people each year. Not only can speeding or driving too fast for road conditions lead to an accident, it can also make the resulting injuries much worse. You don’t even have to be driving at excessive speeds. In the wrong situation, just a few miles above the speed limit can be deadly because of stopping distances.

For example, a wet road could mean hitting another vehicle or a pedestrian that you wouldn’t have if you’d been driving at the proper speed and been able to stop in time.

If you’ve been seriously injured in a South Carolina car accident that involved a speeding driver, you know that the consequences of speed can be life-changing. You may have been left with a long-term disability and skyrocketing medical bills for your care. Perhaps you can no longer work, perform household chores, or enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

Road Conditions and Speeding

Figures relating to speed are often deceptive. You need to remember that speed limits refer to the maximum safe speed under ideal driving conditions. What many drivers fail to keep in mind is that driving too fast for road conditions is also typically a violation of the law, as well as being extremely dangerous, even when you are driving below the posted limit.

Some road conditions that may call for motorists to adjust their speed include:

  • Fog
  • Rain
  • Ice and snow
  • Congested traffic
  • Roadwork
  • A collision ahead
  • Nighttime driving.

When you are driving, your total stopping distance consists both of your “reaction distance” and the distance your vehicle travels before your brakes stop it. For example, 30 mph it can take you 111 feet to stop: 66 feet of reaction distance and 45 feet of vehicle stopping distance. Because of the way the mathematics work, at 60 mph the total stopping distance is not doubled, as you might expect. Instead, it’s almost tripled, to 312 feet total—longer than a football field. And at 80 mph, which is speeding on any interstate in South Carolina, the total stopping distance is nearly 500 feet. These figures apply to people with good reaction times and ideal road conditions, so imagine how the situation can deteriorate if it is raining or you’re distracted.

When Speed Kills: Statistics

Whether a driver is exceeding the posted speed limit or is traveling too fast for road conditions, the speeder puts everyone on the road at risk.

  • According to the NHTSA, in 2015, 9,557 persons died in speed-related crashes.
  • Speeding is the most common aggressive driving behavior. During 2014, speeding played a role in one in five fatal crashes—19 percent.
  • Around the same number of drivers—one in five—have admitted, “I try to get where I am going as fast as I can.”
  • For fatal DUIs in 2014, 41 percent of crashes involved speeding drivers, but only 17 percent of such crashes involved non-speeding drivers.
  • Among 15- to 20-year-old male drivers during 2014, over one-third of those who were speeding were also involved in fatal crashes—36 percent. This demographic group is the one most likely to be involved in deadly speeding crashes.
  • In 2015, on roads where the speed limit was 55 mph or higher, speed contributed to 48 percent of deaths.
  • That same percentage—48 percent—of all drivers have reported that they went at least 15 mph over the speed limit “on a freeway” during the previous month. Those who did so on a frequent or regular basis amounted to 15 percent of drivers. Keep in mind that, in South Carolina, that would mean traveling 85 mph or more.
  • According to CarInsuranceComparison.com, South Carolina ranks as the seventh-worst state for speeding-related deaths. Of 2016’s 824 road fatalities, 305 of them were speeding-related, or 37.01 percent.
  • The economic cost of speeding in 2010, according to the NHTSA, was $59.1 billion, or 21 percent of total economic costs for crashes.
  • A speeding ticket can hurt your pocketbook. In some locations, the maximum fine is over $1,000. Speeding can also put points on your license and cause your insurance costs to rise for years.

Speeding and Aggressive Driving

Speeding is considered to be aggressive driving, especially when combined with weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, running red lights, and other reckless behaviors. In fact, speeding often leads to these other behaviors.

State laws that cover aggressive driving usually define aggressive driving behaviors and the penalties. South Carolina does not have an aggressive driving law as such, but certain behaviors, such as weaving and tailgating, along with speeding, already have laws addressing them.

The maximum speed limit in South Carolina for both passenger and commercial vehicles is 70 mph on both urban and rural interstates. The speed limit for non-interstate, limited-access roads is 55 mph.

Why Do We Speed?

The statistics above tell us that speeding laws are in place for a reason, because the bottom line is that speed really does injure and kill. Drivers offer a multitude of excuses for why they speed, but all the reasons amount to putting others on the road at risk of serious harm, even death, as both national and South Carolina statistics show.

According to the NHTSA, the most common reasons that drivers speed are:

  • They’re running late or in a hurry for some reason.
  • They’re feeling emotional—angry, frustrated, or in a bad mood.
  • They’re in traffic. Traffic congestion has been shown to trigger aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding.
  • They’re distracted and simply don’t realize how fast they’re going.
  • They’re driving under the influence, which has been shown to increase the likelihood of speeding.
  • They want to, and also think they can, get away with it. Those who speed regularly can have a disregard for the law and the safety of others.
  • It gives them a thrill or excites them.

Many other reasons have been given for speeding by drivers, from “it’s fun to speed” to “no one else was around” to “it’s hard for my car to go the speed limit.” But essentially, all reasons given generally boil down to one of the ones listed above.

If you have been injured in a speed-related accident, or have lost a loved one as a result of such an accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or your loss.

When speeding or driving too fast for conditions results in a collision, it becomes all too apparent why we have laws to regulate speed. When an innocent victim pays the price for someone else’s negligence, the speeding driver should be held accountable.

When life goes wrong, we fight for what’s right.

There is no substitute for proper legal help when making a South Carolina auto accident claim. The Louthian Law Firm has been helping South Carolinians since 1959 by providing experienced, aggressive representation in settlement negotiations and at trial. We will be happy to meet with you for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. In fact, you will not pay any fees until we win your case.

We know the devastation a serious injury can cause. Our experienced lawyers can help you secure the compensation you need to get your life back on track. Contact the Louthian Law Firm in Columbia today at 1-803-454-1200 for a free, confidential evaluation of your case. If you prefer, you can also fill out our online contact form.