NHTSA: Drivers Aware Of Dangers, But Many Still Speed

It’s widely accepted as common knowledge that speeding is dangerous. In fact, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, nearly half of motorists acknowledge that speeding is a problem on U.S. roads and that something needs to be done to fix it. However, automakers are now building cars that make it increasingly easy to break speed limits, sometimes unintentionally.

The recently released National Survey of Speeding Attitudes and Behavior shows a somewhat contradictory attitude toward speeding in the U.S. Nearly 10,000 people die every year in traffic-related accidents, and speeding is a factor in almost a third of these fatalities, according to NHTSA. Ninety-one percent of respondents agreed that “everyone should obey the speed limits because it’s the law,” and eighty percent believed that following speed limits makes it easier to respond safely to dangerous situations.

Unsurprisingly, many drivers are well aware of the risks of speeding despite professing to do it on a regular basis. One in five admitted, “I try to get where I am going as fast as I can,” while more than 25 percent of respondents replied, “speeding is something I do without thinking,” and, “I enjoy the feeling of driving fast.” Sixteen percent even thought that it wasn’t even dangerous for skilled drivers to exceed speed limits.

Setting aside the dizzying array of entertainment features that can easily distract drivers from realizing they are speeding (touch screens being a major culprit), it is difficult to be shocked by this kind of response when modern cars comprehensively facilitate driving fast.

Not only are today’s cars quicker and more powerful than ever, improvements in ride comfort and reduced road noise significantly reduce the sensation of danger that is inherent to excessive speeding—90 mph in your average sedan doesn’t feel terribly different than 65 mph. Advanced safety features ranging from complex airbag systems to state-of-the art active safety technology further diminish perceived risk and injury, while huge gains in fuel-efficiency cut down on consumption at high speeds.

"We all have places we need to go, but it's never the right decision to put ourselves, our families and others in harm's way to get there faster," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx warned in a statement. "This is another reminder, as the busy holiday season approaches, to obey speed limits, reduce speed in inclement weather conditions and allow plenty of time to arrive safely."

Speed in and of itself is not dangerous. Reckless and inattentive driving is dangerous. Current speed limits have no scientific bases; none; zero. The statement that 1/3 of traffic fatalities are speed related is an intentional misrepresentation to justify our irrational speed limits. If our traffic police put down their radar guns and drove paying attention to to the drivers talking on the phone, eating, and reading a book, or sleeping then we might see a real decrease in so call accidents. Drivers riding the bumpers of the car ahead, cutting in front while going slower than the car they pull in front of, cutting across lines to get to the turn off they almost missed because they were not paying attention; these are the type thing I see causing wrecks every day.I read the daily reports on traffic fatalities and the usual reasons listed are crossing the center line or in single car wrecks going off the road; neither usually having anything to do with speed. Since the people are dead we cannot ask them, but I imagine most are the result of either the driver going to sleep or being distracted. If like me you ride a motorcycle the the idiots pulling out from a stop sign or turning in front of you as if you don't exist are what cause most motorcycle deaths.The only time I see speed being a factor is when the driver/rider tries to go around a curve faster than their skill level.
I am one of those 16% who believe exceeding the speed limit is OK for skilled drivers.  If you read this mag, you are probably interested in performance cars and do speed on a regular basis.  I've lived for years in Europe and driven well above 100mph routinely.  In the USA the artificially low speed limits are put in place to raise revenue.  States like Virginia make money by entrapping drivers who are driving a reasonable speed but above the States posted speed limit.  I only a 1/3 of traffic fatalities are speed related.  My concern isn't with speed but the lack of judgement shown by other drivers.  Those who cut off other drivers, lane hope without even signaling, speeding in congested traffic and residential areas are the real dangers.   Driving 90mph on a rural interstate is much less so.  

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