Since the removal of the national maximum speed limit in 1995, most states have slowly increased speed limits across the country. Areas once restricted to 55 miles per hour now allow speeds up to 85 miles per hour. This large increase escalates the number and severity of crashes throughout the United States. Approximately 28 percent of crash fatalities in 2014 resulted from high-speed collisions. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, high speeds affect the number of crashes in three ways.
Less Reaction Time
As speed increases, a driver has less and less time to react to a hazard in the roadway. The human brain needs time to process the information before the person knows how to react. Though it may only take a few seconds to realize you must break or swerve, if you’re driving too fast you may not have time to react safely.
- If you are driving 55 miles per hour, you cover a distance of 0.91 miles during a single minute. Increase your speed to 85, the highest in the country, and you’ve traveled 1.42 miles. While this may not seem significant, think about how many times you have swerved just in time to miss another vehicle or object.
The faster you are traveling, the more stopping distance you need because it takes that much more time to slow then stop. When traveling at high speeds, increase the distance between you and other vehicles. Leave room to react and stop.
- On average, a car traveling at 50 miles per hour will take 14 car lengths to stop completely, whereas a car traveling at 80 miles per hour would take 21 cars lengths to stop. That’s a fifty percent increase for only 30 more miles per hour.
- During the stopping time, you will hit anything in your path. Stopping distance is a main factor in multiple vehicle pile-ups. Cars simply cannot stop in time to avoid hitting other vehicles.
The Insurance Institute for Highway safety states that high speeds increase the energy of a crash exponentially. In other words, there is more force behind the vehicle when it travels at a higher speed which makes an impact more deadly. During these high impact crashes, safety systems in cars and on the road may not work as effectively.
- Car safety systems are designed to withstand great amounts of crash energy, however there are limits to the amounts in which they can properly operate.
- Air bags, seat belts, and other devices are vital to keeping occupants safe. If they fail, the likelihood of serious injury or death grows.
- The same principal applies to crash cushions, barriers, and other safety measures outside of the vehicle. These devices are put in place to absorb some of the crash energy.
Despite your diligence, you may be in a high-speed crash at some time and incur high medical bills, car repairs, and other distress. A car accident law firm can help. From negotiating with insurance companies and other liable parties, a car accident lawyer Phoenix AZ trusts can help you recover damages from an accident.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Alex & Saavedra, P.C. for their insight into car accident cases resulting from high-speed accidents.