Based on data cited by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA, speeding puts everyone on the road in danger. Around 11,260 people were killed in 2020 because of speeding. The same year, going too fast contributed to 29% of all traffic deaths. For more than 20 years, speeding has played a role in around one-third of all motor vehicle deaths.
Speeding can affect you and other people when you’re driving the speed limit even, but you’re going faster than what’s appropriate for the road conditions at the time. For example, if you’re driving during inclement weather or at night and you can’t see well because the area’s not well lit, you should slow down.
Speeding causes accidents with other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
The reasons that can raise the risk of someone speeding or generally driving aggressively include:
- Traffic: When the roadways are congested, it is often mentioned as a contributor to speeding and aggressive driving. With traffic, drivers might respond by not only speeding but frequently changing lanes or getting angry at other drivers who they feel are in their way.
- Being late: When someone drives aggressively, it’s often because they’re running later for something important like work.
- Feeling anonymous: When people are behind the wheel of a vehicle, they can tend to feel a sense of anonymity. They feel like they’re detached from their surroundings in some circumstances, so they might feel like there are fewer limits on their behavior because they’ll never see the people around them again.
- Disregard: Some people who are chronic speeders aren’t doing it in response to a situation. They’re doing it because they don’t have regard for the law or other people.
So what are the specific consequences that can occur as a result of speeding?
1. It’s a Leading Cause of Accidents
In general, as mentioned above, when you speed, you’re at a much higher risk of being in an accident. Along with distracted driving and driving under the influence, speeding is a leading cause of vehicle collisions.
2. Increases Accident Severity
If someone is involved in an accident when they’re driving, and speed is a factor, it’s likely to make it more severe than it would have been otherwise.
The higher the collision speed, the more serious the damage and injury consequences are going to be.
This goes back to physics. The human body is already vulnerable physically compared to the forces that a collision creates. Vehicles are better equipped to absorb the energy from a crash, but speed is still one of the biggest factors in the outcomes of a crash.
Along with speed, a vehicle’s mass is also relevant. The occupants of a lighter vehicle in an accident are likely to face worse outcomes than the occupants in the heavier vehicle.
When you’re speeding, you need a faster reaction time because a speeding car is going to cover more ground than a car when it’s traveling at a slower speed. There are longer braking distances needed.
3. More Risk of Losing Control of a Vehicle
If you speed, you’re more at risk of losing control of your vehicle. Losing control is a somewhat frequent cause of accidents.
If you lose control of your car, it can cause you to panic. It is an emergency situation.
4. Legal Consequences
Not only are you putting your own safety at risk, the safety of your passengers, and of the other people on the roadway when you speed, but you’re also potentially going to face legal issues.
Speeding can be an expensive mistake. If you have a speeding ticket on your record, you might pay $367 more per year, on average, for a policy that’s full coverage compared to someone who doesn’t have any tickets. As well as paying an increased premium, you’ll have to pay your fee for your ticket itself.
How much you pay in fines depends on the specifics of the situation. Your actual speed is relevant. Higher speeds impact your costs for your ticket and can sometimes lead to criminal charges. You could also face license suspensions and jail time for speeding. In some states, driving 20 or more miles over the speed limit is characterized as reckless driving.
Some states have much stricter penalties for speeding than others. In Nevada, for example, you’ll see some of the most stringent speeding penalties.
The area where your speeding is relevant. If you’re speeding in what’s considered a high-risk area, like a school or in a construction zone, you’re probably going to have penalties that are steeper.
If you’re pulled over because of speeding, and an officer noticed you’re committing other infractions, like reckless or distracted driving, your ticket consequences will probably be more severe and, again, can lead to jail time.
If you have a speeding history or several moving violations on your driving record, you might have to pay more than if it were your first incident.
If you hurt someone or kill them while you’re speeding, you can expect much more serious penalties even than what’s listed above. If the offense is one that’s considered serious enough, or you have a pattern of speeding showing up on your driving record, you could have your license suspended. A suspension could last anywhere from a month to a year.
If you speed, you’ll accrue points on your driver’s license, which can, in the most severe instances, lead to a confiscation of your vehicle.
Speeding offenses can be an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a felony. Most speeding tickets are an infraction or a violation with no criminal penalty, although the factors detailed above can mean harsher penalties.
If you’re in an accident with someone and you’re speeding, they might also take action in civil court.
5. Increased Fuel Costs
Finally, it may seem minor, but if you regularly speed, you’re going to end up paying more in gas overall because speeding and then braking uses more. With prices as high as they are at pumps right now, this is the last thing you want to add to your budget.