New NTSB report shows the dangers of speeding

Photo: VisualField/iStockphoto

Washington – Speeding kills nearly as many people as drunk driving, according to the results of a new study from the National Transportation Safety Board.

NTSB found that, between 2005 and 2014, speeding contributed to 112,580 deaths – 31 percent of all highway crash fatalities – involving passenger vehicles. “To put that number in perspective, nearly the same number of people – 112,948 – died in alcohol-involved crashes in the same period,” the agency stated in a press release.

Other findings:

  • Drivers continue to speed despite knowing the dangers. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said it was unacceptable to drive 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street, yet 45 percent reported having done so in the past 30 days. Similarly, 74 percent of respondents considered it unacceptable to drive 15 mph over the speed limit on freeways, yet 48 percent admitted to having done so in the past 30 days.
  • Despite the effectiveness of automated speed enforcement programs, they are underused.
  • The Department of Transportation’s 2014 Speed Management Program Plan includes important actions to help reduce speed-related fatalities, but DOT has not followed up with tracking their use.

“You can’t tackle our rising epidemic of roadway deaths without tackling speeding, and you can’t tackle speeding without the most current research,” acting NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt said in a July 25 press release. “Speed kills. This study examines how it kills and what actions can be taken to save lives and prevent speeding-related crashes.”

NTSB made recommendations to three federal bodies, two law enforcement organizations, a governors’ association and all 50 states. Among them:

  • Identify speeding-related performance measures to be used by local law enforcement agencies.
  • Amend current laws to authorize state and local agencies to use automated speed enforcement.
  • Establish a program to incentivize state and local speed-management activities.
  • Collaborate with other traffic safety stakeholders to develop and implement an ongoing program to increase public awareness of speeding as a national traffic safety issue.

Traffic safety groups have long warned of the risks of speeding.

“U.S. streets have long been designed to promote speed at all costs, with deadly consequences,” Linda Bailey, executive director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, said in an Aug. 15 press release. “NTSB’s report is an urgent wake-up call for all walks of government to treat excessive speed as the deadly epidemic that it is. With safe street designs, automated enforcement practices and policies that prioritize safety over speed, our streets can be modern, inviting places that make cities great places to be.”

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