Consider this when exceeding the speed limit

If there is a driver that doesn’t speed at least sometimes, I’d like to meet him/her. I don’t believe such a driver exists. Recent information obtained from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in their October issue of “Status Report”, shows that drivers continue to exceed posted speed limits on all kinds of roads, but the problem has worsened on freeways and expressways. That is the finding from a new national survey of traffic speeds by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

That agency studied speeds during 2007 and 2009 for all types of motor vehicles on freeways, arterials and collector roads across the U.S.

These studies showed the percentage of vehicles exceeding posted speed limits by any amount jumped 23 percentage points, rising from 48 percent to 72 percent, from 2007 to 2009. In 2007 14 percent of all vehicles traveling limited-access highways exceeded posted speed limits by 10 mph or more. The percentage rose to 20 percent during 2009.

As a nation of travelers most drivers have become comfortable with driving at speeds five to 10 mph above the posted limit. Most drivers feel they are safe from enforcement up to about 10 mph above the limit, but seldom think about the consequences of a high-speed crash.

Adding to this danger is that some states, like Texas, have raised speed limits on selected highways. For instance, a new toll road between Austin and San Antonio has a posted speed limit of 85 mph, the highest in the nation.

High speeds increase the likelihood of a crash, explains the IIHS, while simultaneously slashing the odds of surviving one. Crashes are more likely because, at a higher speed, a vehicle travels a longer distance in the split second it takes to react to an emergency. And the faster the vehicle is going, the further it will travel before coming to a stop after the driver slams on the brakes. When crashes occur, they are deadlier at high speeds because the energy involved increases exponentially as speed rises.

The IIHS tests vehicles for crashworthiness by hurtling them into a barrier at 40 mph. Most vehicles do well in these tests, meaning people could survive similar real-world crashes without serious injuries. But at high speeds, all bets are off. The vehicle’s structure won’t hold up, and airbags and safety belts won’t be able to do their job. When a crash is imminent, a car traveling 65 mph has a much better chance of getting down to a survivable speed before impact than a car traveling 85 mph, says the IIHS.

So, instead of driving at speeds that you think you won’t get stopped for, you should drive at speeds which give you a good chance of survival. Keep this in mind whenever you are behind the wheel.

For more articles on traffic law and safety, go to the traffic safety board’s web site at: and click on “Traffic Safety Board” under departments then look for Did You Know articles under “services.”