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Why Speed is Fatal


The four boys were on their way to high school golf practice. The driver, a 17-year-old, had a junior driver’s license and should not have been transporting three people under 21 without an adult in the car; the wisdom of this law was borne out by the incident that ensued. It was a bright, warm, dry fall day—perfect for golf, and perfect road conditions, except that road conditions are never perfect for speeding. The 17-year-old driver was in fact speeding, playing music and talking with his friends. The car hit a curve, the driver lost control, and the car flew into the air, overturning and slicing into a utility pole with live electrical wires falling on the car.

A utility crew working nearby rushed to the scene and cut the wires; first responders arrived immediately. Two of the four boys were not critically injured; they were backseat passengers. The front seat passenger was not as fortunate: he flew through the windshield and sustained massive head and facial injuries. He was rushed to a local hospital. The driver remained pinned under the steering wheel. It took first responders 3 hours to extricate him, and he had to be sedated in order to be removed. He suffered multiple broken bones—including his sternum—and internal injuries. However, given the severity of the crash, all four boys are lucky to be alive.


Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes. In the past several decades, speed has been a contributing factor in approximately 30% of all fatal crashes, resulting in a loss of 9,557 lives in 2015 according to NHTSA. The economic cost to society of speeding-related crashes is estimated by the NHTSA to be $40.4 billion per year.

There is definitely a certain demographic associated with speeding. In 2012, 37% of male drivers ages 15-24 years old involved in fatal crashes were speeding. Conversely, 24% of female drivers ages 15-20 years old involved in fatal crashes were speeding, and only 19% of female drivers ages 21-24 years old involved in fatal crashes were speeding. Unfortunately, the driver in the above crash fits the demographic data perfectly: he is a male between the ages of 15-24 years old.


The World Health Organization, WHO, lists three major reasons why speed is so hazardous and such a huge contributing factor in fatal accidents: (1) the higher the speed, the shorter the time a driver has to stop and avoid a crash; (2) an increase in speed of only 1 km/hour leads to a 3% increase in the risk of a crash involving injuries, and a 4-5% increase in the risk of a crash involving fatalities; and (3) speed also contributes to the severity of the impact, injuries and likelihood of death: a car traveling 80 km/hr has a likelihood of death that is 20x greater than a car traveling at 30 km/hr.


  1. The most obvious measures are still the most effective: setting and enforcing speed limits. One of the best methods of enforcement is speed cameras.
  2. Some countries post speed limits that vary according to weather, traffic conditions, road conditions and time of day; by being responsive the speed limits are more likely to be followed.
  3. Infrastructure measures such as roundabouts, road narrowings, rumble strips, etc.
  4. Design features that limit speed of vehicle itself.

The above are measures that are being implemented in areas/countries successfully, and bear closer scrutiny for more wide-spread dissemination.


If you or someone you know has been injured due to a motor vehicle accident in which speed was a factor, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.

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Thomas Law Firm
Located at 945 East Paces Ferry Road, Resurgens Plaza, GA 30326.

Phone: (678) 264-8348.
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