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Even The Risk of Death Doesn't Seem to Deter Speeding

Craig McClellan

Historically, speed limits were put into place in order to help prevent car accidents. Research determines what the appropriate speed for a road is, based on its location and volume of traffic. Traveling the appropriate speed on a road really is a matter of public safety. In fact, speeding is contributing factor to one-third of fatal car accidents.

Despite the apparent safety concern, few people consider traveling a few miles over the posted limit as a need for concern.

But they should.

Increased efforts from state and federal agencies have aimed at cracking down on speeding and speed-related accidents. Much to the dismay of authorities and agency groups, speeding continues to be a safety issue.

Since 2000, deaths resulting from not wearing a seatbelt and drunk driving have decreased, but deaths related to speeding have increased. In 2010, more than 10,500 people died as a result of speeding.

Despite this number, it seems that few efforts are actually being made to deter drivers from exceeding the speed limit:

  • Only seven states in the last seven years have actually increased their speed limits
  • Only two states have increased fines for speeding.
  • As state budgets are cut, so is the staffing of police officers and state troopers

Some cities are attempting to crackdown by using speed cameras - similar to the red light cameras used. The speed cameras take a picture of the plate of a car driving over the speed limit (usually only when it gauges the car to be travelling 12 mph or more over the posted limit). The citation is then mailed to the owner of the license plate. But it is unclear whether the cost of these cameras are offset by their benefits and whether the efforts are a deterrent at all.

Some safety advocates believe that the discussion shouldn't be limited to speed limit enforcement, suggesting that better driver education and traffic engineering are the keys to improving traffic safety. But anyone who has suffered an injury or lost a loved one in a speeding-related accident knows that any progress at all on this issue is sorely needed in California.