Who would you point to if we were to ask you which motorists are apt to get caught speeding here in Charleston? Would your response perhaps be age or gender-related? Or would it focus on something else? Or would these typical generalizations not even make it on your radar?
Statisticians have long sought to identify individuals most likely to speed in hopes of creating public safety announcements (PSAs) and other initiatives aimed at curbing this dangerous driving behavior. Recent studies have allowed them to focus on the culprits and the reasons for their reckless driving. This insight has shaped regulators’ efforts to put an end to it. A discussion of speeding and its adverse impacts follows.
How Big of a Problem Is Speeding?
The old saying goes that “drunk driving kills.” Well, the same goes for speed. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows that 9,478 motorists lost their lives in speed-related accidents in 2019. NHTSA statistics also cite speeding as a contributing factor in at least 26% of all deadly crashes.
While there are no statistics readily available to cite regarding the frequency of injury accidents attributable to speeding, it’s likely that they’re significantly higher than the fatality rates. If your inclination is that there’s a direct correlation between speed and the severity of damage to a vehicle and its occupants, you’re right. Those motorists fortunate enough to survive such crashes are the ones most likely to:
- Be ejected from their vehicles
- Suffer blunt force trauma resulting in head injuries
- Fracture bones or sever limbs, resulting in amputation
- Be left with spinal cord damage and residual paralysis
Attorneys often meet clients after they’ve suffered these catastrophic injuries, and learn their harrowing stories of how they held on to their lives after a speeding motorist rendered them relatively incapacitated. It never gets easier to listen to the obstacles they’ve had to overcome because a West Virginia motorist decided to negligently operate their vehicle.
Which Motorists Are Most Apt To Speed?
Two different reports cited by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) point to both young motorists and male drivers as the two populations most likely to speed. The organization also references a nationwide poll in which motorists aged 16-20 reported significantly higher rates of involvement in speeding-related crashes than older motorists.
Another 2019 study claimed that male motorists were more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than their female counterparts.
Study authors then went on to outline how it was determined that 12% of female motorists involved in deadly crashes were speeding when they occurred. Researchers determined that men’s rates were 7% higher in comparison. Study authors determined that the older a driver was, the less likely that speed contributed to their crashes.
Why Motorists Speed
Now that you know who it is that speeds, you’re probably wondering what motivates drivers to engage in such a risky driving behavior that could claim both others’ lives and their own. The NHTSA cites the following factors as motivators for drivers to speed:
- Distractions: Anything that takes a motorist’s mind off driving, whether it’s an in-car conversation or one on the phone, children, music, a global positioning system (GPS), or something else, can lead a driver to lose track of their speed. The same may occur if a driver is alone yet gets too lost in their thoughts.
- Tardiness: Whether they’re running late to school, work, the doctor’s office, court, or somewhere else, this is one of the most commonly cited reasons why drivers speed.
- Keeping up with others: How often have you heard motorists say that they were driving faster than the posted speed limit because everyone else was doing it and they wanted to keep up with the traffic? While that’s the excuse many motorists give, it’s not a good one. Some safety analysts believe that drivers who speed motivate others to do the same and are more apt to engage in other aggressive driving tactics, such as cutting in close when passing others, which could increase their crash risk.
- Inexperience or carelessness: Driver immaturity and inexperience may affect their ability to reason through their actions and understand their consequences. These deficits in reasoning may affect a motorist’s ability to understand why speeding as part of a drag or street racing situation, for example, may put their lives at risk and that of others. A motorist may also simply have a disregard for others and be solely focused on doing what brings them enjoyment.
In the case of truckers, they often speed to make up for time after they’ve unexpectedly spent time stuck in traffic or at the urging of their employer, who puts pressure on them to make a delivery in time.
Initiatives Regulators Have Launched To Curb Speeding
State regulators have long imposed graduated penalties for speeding here in West Virginia. While minor speed limit violations may result in a ticket, drivers who operate their vehicle at particularly excessive speeds may face imprisonment.
There are also special areas throughout the state where enhanced fines and penalties are imposed, including:
- Speed enforcement zones
- School zones
- Road construction areas
- Residential zones
While some of these measures have encouraged motorists to slow down in certain areas, they haven’t been as effective in curbing crashes as one might have hoped they would be.
Police officers can’t be everywhere, and this may be necessary to really send a message to motorists that you can’t get by with speeding anytime or anywhere. This concern has motivated regulators to fund law enforcement’s use of speed cameras. These work much like radars, lasers, and visual average speed calculator and recorder (VASCAR) devices that law enforcement officers have long been using in the field to identify speeding motorists and record data of their infractions.
In the case of truckers, federal lawmakers have repeatedly proposed making the installation of speed governors on tractor-trailers mandatory, but such efforts haven’t gained bipartisan support.
How an Attorney Can Support You if a Speed-Involved Crash Injures You
Speed claims nearly 10,000 individuals’ lives each year in the United States. It leaves countless others with such severe injuries that their lives stand in stark contrast to those they once lived.
While it may seem that there’s not much you can do to improve your life if you’ve been injured in a speed-related crash, there might be. Medical expenses that you’re likely to have if you suffered significant injuries can be costly to treat. Your recovery of a significant settlement in your car accident case may help you afford a higher level of care, though.
If the prospect of a little less phantom pain after an amputation, increased mobility following a spinal cord injury, or a faster track toward more cognitive breakthroughs in the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury would give you a new lease on life, then it’s time to reach out to us at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC. At that initial consultation, a lawyer will go over details about your speed-related crash to determine where liability lies and then go over the rights afforded to you under West Virginia law in your case.