According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and based on 2017 figures, speeding is a factor in more than a quarter of all types of accidents. These figures include not only accidents involving drivers who exceeded the posted speed limits, but also those who may have been traveling within the posted speed but too fast for the condition of the roads.
In Florida in 2017, exceeding the posted speed limit resulted in 124 fatal accidents. In addition, 127 accidents caused by speeding resulted in incapacitating injuries and another 235 resulted in non-incapacitating injuries. Driving too fast for conditions caused 92 fatal accidents, as well as 411 accidents resulting in incapacitating injuries and 1,140 non-incapacitating injuries.
Suffice it to say, speeding is a major issue that leads to traffic accidents, injuries, and death. If you’ve been injured in an accident that was the result of another driver driving too fast, you should determine your eligibility to seek compensation for your injuries. An experienced car accident attorney can help you understand the process.
Did a Speeding Driver Cause Your Injuries?
In Florida, vehicle owners are required to purchase a personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy before registering their vehicles. If you are injured in an accident—regardless of fault—this policy will generally be the first place you turn to for money to pay for medical expenses and time away from work due to your injuries. Once the limit of this policy is reached, or if your injuries meet the serious injury threshold, you are permitted to sue an at-fault party for accident damages.
Serious injuries in Florida are those that cause:
- Significant or permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Significant or permanent scarring or disfigurement
If your injury reaches the serious injury threshold, you generally have up to four years from the date of the crash to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. Even if you were partially responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, you are likely still eligible to file a claim against other at-fault parties. However, a court will likely reduce any damage award you obtain according to your level of liability. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you determine your percentage of liability and explain how that will affect your eligibility to obtain compensation.
To have a successful outcome with a car accident claim, you must establish negligence on the part of the other driver. For a speeding driver, establishing negligence would be as follows:
- The driver owed you a duty of care. For example, the duty of driving safely and in accordance with traffic laws.
- There was a breach in this duty of care. The driver was speeding, which is against the law.
- This breach resulted in the accident, which caused your injuries.
Why Is Speeding so Dangerous?
Two people died and three more were injured after a speeding-related accident in Escambia County. The accident occurred when the driver of a 2010 Dodge Charger, traveling at a high rate of speed, lost control and struck the left side of a minivan occupied by a woman and two young children. The Charger then hit a traffic signal pole with such force that the vehicle was ripped in half and the two occupants were ejected. Both the driver and the passenger of the Charger died of injuries sustained in the crash. The three occupants of the minivan were all transported to the hospital with serious injuries.
Unfortunately, stories like this are not uncommon. Speeding is a dangerous activity due to:
- An increased likelihood of losing control of the vehicle
- An increased likelihood of road rage tendencies
- A decreased amount of time that a driver has to perceive and react to hazards on the roadway
- Additional speed requires additional distance to come to a stop
- An increase in the force of the collision, causing more severe crashes and injuries
- A reduction to the effectiveness of the vehicle’s safety features, such as airbags, framing, and seat belts
- It is harder for others to determine how fast a speeding vehicle is moving, increasing the danger of someone pulling out into the path of the speeding vehicle under the belief that he or she has ample time.
Regarding the time it takes for a speeding car to come to a safe stop, if a driver doubles his or her speed from 30 to 60 miles per hour, it doesn’t take twice as long to stop, as one may think, but rather four times as long. This includes time for the driver to perceive danger, react to danger, and the vehicle’s braking technology to fully deploy. It takes about six seconds to stop a vehicle that is traveling at 55 miles per hour. In that time, the vehicle will have traveled the distance of a football field.
Remember, speed-related crashes don’t just pertain to those in which a driver is exceeding the posted speed limit, but also those drivers who are driving too fast for the conditions of the road but still within the legal limit for speed.
According to a 2019 study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the increase in posted speeds across the U.S. over the past 25 years has resulted in an additional 37,000 deaths. In 1995, the federal government repealed national maximum speed limits, instead turning the issue over to individual states to decide.
Since then, 41 states have speed limits that are 70 miles per hour on certain roadways. Six states have speed limits of up to 80 miles per hour. The IIHS study revealed that, for every five miles an hour that the speed limit increases, a correlating 8 percent increase takes place in traffic-related fatalities on interstates and freeways and a 3 percent increase takes place in fatal accidents on other roads.
What Causes People to Speed?
Speeding is a form of aggressive driving, which is most often seen in traffic congestion, when people are most likely to be stressed out and simply trying to reach their destination. Other reasons for speeding include:
- Being in a hurry. People often speed because they’re running late for work, an appointment, or other engagement. Unfortunately, the reason for speeding doesn’t justify the risk, as you really don’t save a lot of time by driving faster. The IIHS study noted that increasing your speed from 65 to 70 miles per hour saves, at best, six and a half minutes of driving time.
- The anonymity that being shielded within a car provides. As noted by the NHTSA, this anonymity often causes people to view the world with a sense of detachment, not thinking about the potential consequences that their actions may cause to others around them.
- A disregard for others or for the law. While many people only drive aggressively on occasion, others do it regularly. Often these individuals don’t think about laws or about the safety of others, and they frequently have problems in other aspects of their lives because of this, as well.
A Portrait of the Average Speeder
A high school student from Jacksonville died when the vehicle he was driving lost control and hit a tree. The boy’s two passengers, also teenage boys who attended the same school, suffered serious injuries in the collision. Authorities believe the boys were racing two other cars, though the drivers and passengers of the other cars were not identified at the time of the crash.
People of all ages and all walks of life speed. Speeding can happen at any time of the day or night. While both of these statements are true to a point, the NHTSA reports that there are some people more likely to speed than others, and times and places where speeding is more prevalent. Here is a glimpse at the average speeder:
- He is young and male. In 2017, nearly a third of all fatal crashes involving a driver who was male and between the ages of 15 to 20 years old also involved speeding. 18 percent of female drivers in that same age group were speeding at the time of their accident. Males in all age groups are more likely to speed than females.
- He already lost his license. According to 2017 statistics, more than a quarter of speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes are driving without a valid driver’s license at the time of the accident. 26 percent have a previously recorded speeding conviction; 24 percent have a previously recorded license suspension or revocation; and 21 percent have a previously reported crash. A July 2019 accident that resulted in the death of a 30-year-old on-duty deputy for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office—who was also a combat veteran and the father of two young children—was found to have been caused by a 32-year-old man who, over the course of 13 years, had managed to wrack up an extensive list of traffic citations, including three speeding tickets and three tickets for driving while his license was suspended.
- He is Drunk Driver. Speeding and alcohol impairment often go hand-in-hand when it comes to fatal crashes. 37 percent of the speeding drivers involved in fatal collisions in 2017 were found to be over the legal blood alcohol content limit of .08 percent at the time of their crash, compared to 16 percent of non-speeding drivers. 26 percent of speeding drivers in these crashes were found to have a blood alcohol content of twice the legal limit.
- He isn’t wearing his seatbelt. Nearly half of the drivers of passenger cars involved in a speeding-related fatal crash were unrestrained at the time of the accident.
- It’s either summertime or the winter holiday season. The number of speed-related traffic crashes increases in the summer months, as well as in December and January.
- It is nighttime, and it’s the weekend. 20 percent of the speeding-related fatal crashes took place at night, compared to 14 percent during the day. 20 percent of these crashes took place on the weekend, as compared to 15 percent that happened during the day.
7 Ways to Avoid Speeding
Avoiding speeding seems simple enough: just slow down. However, many people struggle with keeping their speed below the speed limit, even if they’re trying to focus on doing so. Here are some tips to help you avoid the risk of a ticket—or worse, an accident that could leave you or someone else with serious injuries or even cause death.
- Plan your route. Modern GPS systems not only provide alternate routes for you to take if the route you’re using suddenly becomes congested, but also give you an estimate as to how long your trip is expected to take, based on real-time factors.
- Leave earlier. Many people speed because they’re running late for work or another engagement. If you have a precise time at which you need to arrive, leaving earlier is your best bet.
- Ensure that your speedometer is working properly and keep an eye on it as you’re traveling. You should always be conscious of how fast you’re going.
- Avoid driving impaired. Alcohol impairment is a frequent partner to speeding. Unfortunately, alcohol diminishes the faculties that you need for safe driving, including the ability to make good decisions and to concentrate.
- Avoid driving when you’re stressed or angry. Dealing with negative emotions when you get behind the wheel increases the likelihood of aggressive driving behaviors, including speeding. Take a breath, take a few minutes, and calm down.
- Use your cruise control. The cruise control feature was placed on cars for a reason: to travel at a steady and consistent speed. While cruising with the cruise control on doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense for short trips in stop-and-go traffic, it can be very helpful on longer trips, particularly on the freeway, where it will allow you to maintain a speed within the posted limit.
Look at your tires. Regularly driving at faster speeds will cause your tires to wear prematurely. If you find that your tires are showing excessive wear for the number of miles you’ve driven on them, there is a good chance that you have been driving too fast.
Would you like more information or a consultation regarding the details of your case? Contact a car accident lawyer, who can answer your questions and help you seek the compensation you deserve.