Speed limit radar sign displaying speeding

Why Speeding Kills

Speeding feels normal. It’s almost granted that most drivers will go 5-10 MPH over the speed limit. Many more speeding drivers are just keeping up with the flow of traffic, not realizing they’re endangering themselves and those around them. Although most of us speed from time to time, it’s crucial to understand why speeding is dangerous and, most importantly, why speeding kills.

Speeding Fatalities in the US

According to the National Highway Transporation Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding is a contributing factor in 25% of all US car crash fatalities. Although the number of speeding-related crashes has fallen, the rate of speed-related fatalities has stayed steady.

The reason for these fatalities is two-fold: First, it’s harder to control a vehicle at higher speeds, increasing the likelihood of a crash. Second, higher speeds cause significantly more damaging car crashes.

The Dangers of Speeding

The faster a driver is going, the less time they have to react to hazards. For example, a driver going 65 MPH goes about 100ft per second, but a driver going 75 MPH moves 110 feet per second. If a nearby car swerves out of their lane, the speeding driver has less than a second to hit the brakes.

High speeds are especially dangerous in the dark. About half of all US crash fatalities occur at night. These crashes are usually the result of mixing low visibility with dangerous speeding. Again, it’s an issue of reaction times.

The average car headlights illuminate just 200 feet in front of the vehicle. That means if there’s something in the road (like a wild animal), a driver going 70 MPH has less than two seconds to identify the threat and hit the brakes. But that leads to another issue, which is that a speeding vehicle requires more distance to slow down.

Imagine again the car going 70 MPH on a dark night. The driver sees a deer standing in the road 200ft ahead. Even if they hit the brakes at the exact moment they can see the deer, they’ll need about 480ft to come to a safe stop. If, on the other hand, they slam the brakes all at once, they run the risk of causing a spin-out or even a roll-over, which can cause catastrophic damage.

The fact is that speeding is reckless. It has a marginal impact on travel time, but it dramatically increases the risk that the driver will make a mistake and be involved in a fatal crash. But what is it that makes speeding-related crashes deadlier than other crashes?

A Scientific Explanation

Remember that Force in a crash = Mass x Acceleration. That means, the faster something is going and the heavier it is, the more energy it needs to get rid of to come to a complete stop. Normally, force is dispersed through friction and heat when a driver hits the brakes. In a crash, that same force is instead dispersed on the car’s frame, which causes it to crumple, bend, and break.

Here’s an example of how speeding significantly increases the damage from a car crash, even in the same car. Let’s assume the driver is operating a 5,000lb pick-up truck (or a 2,267 kg truck).

2,267 kg x 28.9 meters per second (65 MPH) = 65,629 Newtons of Force

2,267 kg x 35.6 meters per second (80 MPH) = 80,737 Newtons of Force

In this case, the speeding driver will cause about 20% more damage in a car crash than the driver going the speed limit. Sadly, that extra force translates to an increased likelihood of destroying the car and causing a fatality.

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a car crash, you deserve justice. If you’d like an experienced Paducah car accident attorney from Katz Law to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (270) 778-0020.