Speeding Drivers and Deadly Car Crashes

speeding driver pixlr

Every driver speeds now and then, right?  It may generally be seen as harmless, acceptable and common bad driving behavior, but speeding drivers kill nearly 10,000 people a year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the latest data on speeding drivers in America.  The report is for 2017, the most recent year fatal speeding accident information is available.

Of the more than 52,000 drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2017, 17 percent were speeding.  More than one out of every four people killed in a car crash that year died in a crash involving a speeding driver. A total of 9,717 people lost their lives in traffic accidents that had a speeding driver.

Missouri Fatal Crashes Involving Speeding Drivers

In Missouri in 2017, speeding drivers were involved in a much higher percentage of fatal car accidents than the national average.  Three-hundred-forty-six people in Missouri died in speed-related crashes; 37 percent of all the state’s fatal car and truck wrecks that year. In adjoining Illinois that rate was even higher, as 42 percent of those killed in Illinois in traffic crashes involved at least one speeding driver. That’s among the highest percentages of all states.

With their higher speed limits it’s an understandable assumption that most people died in speeding accidents on Missouri interstate highways.  But that’s not true, according to the NHTSA.  In 2017, only 14 percent of those killed in Missouri fatal motor vehicle accidents died in crashes on interstate highways, including both rural and urban settings.

And if speeding is not dangerous enough, the federal data show that reckless drivers who speed compound their threats by speeding under risky conditions.

First are road conditions and speeding. Sixteen percent of speeding drivers in deadly crashes in 2017 were on dry roads.  As road conditions deteriorated the percentage of speeding drivers in fatal wrecks increased:

  • 21 percent of speeding drivers in fatal car crashes were on wet roads
  • 34 percent of speeding drivers in fatal crashes were on snowy or slushy roads
  • 40 percent of speeding drivers in fatal crashes were on roads that had ice or frost

Drivers Found Drunk and Speeding

The NHTSA also found that speeding drivers in fatal crashes were more likely to be drunk than drivers who were not speeding.

Of all drivers who were speeding in 2017 and involved in a deadly accident, 37 percent were legally drunk; they had a blood-alcohol-level of .08 grams per deciliter or higher. That compares to 16 percent of non-speeding drivers.  And 26 percent of all speeding drivers in a fatal car wreck had a BAC of at least .15, or almost twice the legal limit.

So how are speed limits set?  In April the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released the findings of its study that looked into this question (“Review of Current Practices for Setting Posted Speed Limits”).  Its online survey of traffic professionals found that most speed limits are established by engineering studies that determine the “85th percentile speed.” This is the speed at or below which 85 percent of vehicles are observed traveling on a given portion of road.

Unfortunately, there are careless drivers who fall well outside the 85th percentile.  They speed, and often times drink, and many times take the lives of innocent victims.

If you had a love one die in a car crash caused by a speeding driver or some other negligent act, contact a personal injury attorney about representing your legal rights to just compensation for your unimaginable loss.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Articles May 23, 2019

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