• Dec 18, 2008
Sometimes numbers lie. But we keep them around because they tell the truth more often than not. The NHTSA undertook a two-and-a-half year study that examined 5,471 injury accidents nationwide in order to figure out how accidents were being caused. Government researchers conducted their own evidence gathering at crash sites in order to establish a first-hand account of causation. What did they find? Among other things, that more drivers crashed as a result of crossing the center line (11). Speeding, in this case, defined by "too fast for conditions," not necessarily above the posted limit.
In accidents where driver error was the cause, speeding also came in last as a causative: the 8 who fell asleep or had heart attacks while driving. What's more, the NHTSA's causation percentages are strikingly similar to the percentages found in an independent study conducted by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. In its study of crashes in 2007, the VDoT found that 2.9t were due to drivers falling asleep or falling ill at the tiller.

What will this mean to the politicians setting and revising speed limits based on the "Speed Kills!" mantra? Probably nothing. But it's nice to know, and nice to have the government researched numbers to back it up.

[Source: The Newspaper]



I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 51 Comments
      Idjit
      • 6 Years Ago
      Speed doesn't kill, it is merely a handy revenue source. Unskilled drivers kill, and most of them never approach the revenue established 'speed limit.' They just meander around the country oblivious to the problems they are causing. The most dangerous drivers of all generally follow every traffic law and don't even know they are dangerous.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Saying "speed kills" is an oversimplification.
      - If you're too tired, then any speed is too fast: you're going too fast because you're moving.
      - If you nudge out of an intersection into the path of another vehicle, you caused the accident, and it was your speed of 1 or 2 mph that caused it.
      - If you cross the center line, your velocity has the wrong sign: again, speed.

      So yes, you *can* argue that in every single case, "speed causes accidents".

      But by the same token, saying speed isn't a *factor* in most accidents is an oversimplification. By reducing speed, you can take corrective action.

      The majority of dangerous drivers I see are either following too close, or switching lanes. Another common one is drivers who try to get ahead of other drivers signalling to switch lanes. In all three cases, it's someone trying to go faster than the conditions allow. If they reduced their speed, they wouldn't cause accidents.

      But then, "driving" in the US is just something that happens to the person sitting up front at the left. I'm really not surprised any more at the lack of attention people pay to the risks to their lives.
        • 6 Years Ago
        +1, couldn't agree more with all your statements. Its a funny thing really, because people are so immensely preoccupied with finding ways to increase the longevity and satisfaction of their lives, yet don't know how to drive. They are more worried about if the plastic lid on that lasagna they just put in the microwave will leech chemicals that will kill them in 250-years of exposure, but cutting in front of another car trying to switch lanes, or passing in an unsafe distance, seems acceptable. This is one of those really backwards mentalities that I can't for the life of me understand, and I'm glad that doesn't describe my driving style. Its a serious business, it just happens to be a lot of fun if you do it properly and appropriately.
      Jody
      • 6 Years Ago
      It seems to me in reading accounts of accidents in the paper, it is crossing over the center line or losing control that causes most accidents. And the main reason for cars crossing the center line is the error of OVERCORRECTING. The wheels go off the pavement or something is in the road and the inexperienced driver turns the steering wheel too sharply in response. I emphasized to my kids when they were learning how to deal properly with that situation.
      Ken
      • 6 Years Ago
      Duuh
      • 6 Years Ago
      How nice... almost 40% of the people who cross center lines or fall off cliffs are incompetent or go stupid all of a sudden.

      I can understand why lawmakers legislate speed limits. While it may be the cause of the least amount of accidents, it is the easiest one to regulate. It is pretty hard to ban stupidity and incompetence. Can you imagine how many people will not get their license for not being able to pass the driving test? It will end up like California's high schools and their high no-pass rate.
      • 6 Years Ago
      American speed limits are nothing but revenue generators. Interstate freeways are built to the same standards, so why do different states have different speed limits? It used to be illegal to drive faster than 55, now I can legally drive 80 (in Texas) on those same roads. The problem is 1 or 2 generations of Americans were brainwashed by the 55mph nonsense. Before 55, people used to drive 75-90 on freeways. If "speeding" is so dangerous, why does every cop car I see drive 10-40 over the posted speed limit?
      • 6 Years Ago
      i believe it was our own jeremy clarkson who said,

      "speed has never killed anyone... it's suddenly becoming stationary that does it..."
        • 6 Years Ago
        oh wow. It's like you just read my mind. First post too, kudos to you!

        Seriously though, it's a slap to the face for the insurance industry. The speed limits and most of the silly restrictions on the roads have nothing to do with safety. It's all in the interests of the insurance industry. Most of it is masked in the name of safety.
        mmstowes
        • 6 Years Ago
        While I disagree with him on certain topics, I've long subscribed to Mr. Clarkson's school of common sense. I'm certainly not an advocate of wreckless driving on public roads, but then, I also know better and have seen the aftermath of some pretty bad accidents.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Haha.
        Had the exact quote in my mind and was just going to post it.

        Speed has never killed anyone, suddenly becoming stationary... that’s what gets you - JC
        • 6 Years Ago
        pdexter - haha, i knew i didn't have it quite right... i'm still mostly asleep.

        glad i'm not the only one who reads an article about crash safety and immediately goes to the well of clarkson quotes on the subject...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Actually, the safest drivers, statistically speaking, are those 10mph above the flow of traffic - slightly safer than the flow, and much safer than those below and excessively above.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The biggest killer on US roads is bad driving; i.e. not signaling, not understanding how your vehicle works or its limitations, not being aware of what's around you, and general distractions. Inadequate driver training requirements and unmaintained vehicles are also to blame.

      How do I know? My first driver's license was earned in Germany - yes earned. Their education and testing process are much more rigorous. As are their vehicle inspections. In Germany people drive fast - but they make predictable movements, signal for turns and are aware of what's around them. It's faster but safer for sure.

      I cringe every time I see any SUV traveling above 75 mph because I know that much mass can't be stopped or turned quickly without causing an accident - and I regularly drive my small sports car much faster than that (no cell phone while driving, no eating, no tv!). It handles. It's built for going fast - low, fat tires, tight suspension. When I drive a larger vehicle I am very aware of the handling differences so I go a lot slower.

      Unfortunately most drivers simply don't know what will happen if they have to stop quickly or make a sudden turn. They've never done it so they are not ready when they have to.

      The key to reducing accidents in the USA is to significantly increase the training required to operate a vehicle! However that is politically dangerous and doesn't generate revenue.


        • 6 Years Ago
        Agree 100%, I leave in the US but learned to drive in France and the exam was much more rigorous plus there were a lot of mandated hours of driving lessons.

        Same applies to Japan where I lived 4 years
      • 6 Years Ago
      As if this was something new. This has been known for decades. And here's another one to ponder. You are safest when traveling with the traffic flow (plus or minus 10), regardless of the speed limit. More than 10 above the traffic flow and you are 2x more likely to have an accident, but more than 10 less and you are 8x more likely to have an accident (actually it was stated as being 4x the same speed over the flow).

      The reason speed gets a bad wrap is because when filling out an accident report "speed" or "too fast for conditions" or the like is a nice catch-all. In truth speed may or may not have anything to do with the accident.

      The prefect parallel was when my father died of a stroke. On the certificate the doc said the stroke was due to his life-long smoking. I challenged him and asked him how he knew that, because there was no way to know for sure. Just to say it was grasping at straws. Smoking probably contributed, but was it the cause...no way of knowing for sure. Most traffic accidents are exactly the same. The problem is by using a catch all such as speeding the stats are skewed and are thrown into question.

      And because of those skewed figures, and the cash speeding tickets provide, we'll continue to make a huge deal of speeding. A speeding ticket is almost a right of passage and there's no stigma associated with one. Not so with DUI's. Drink in some form or another is associated with about half of all accidents. Why isn't the enforcement where the accidents are. Because if that were to happen the courts would be in gridlock because people would fight a $1,500 fine and their resultant higher insurance costs. Not so for a $200 speeding ticket. And given the state of the economy of most states, look for ticket prices to go up.
        • 6 Years Ago
        exactly. sure, excessive speed is the cause of almost every accident... after all, if we all went 0 mph we wouldn't have any accidents.
      • 6 Years Ago
      When the police make their accident report there is a couple empty beer cans in the car that could have been there for a couple months,but the police says was evidence of drinking,,do they see a cell phone in the car and say there is evidence of some dummy using a cell phone and trying to write down a report or directions.
      Make it against the law to talk on a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle and you will see the accident rate drop..This is the biggest cause of accidents in this country today.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I forget the guys or galls handle but its all about the mighty dollar and the way things are going there gonna want more. Keep electing these idiots?
    • Load More Comments