Approximately 6.2 million reported crashes occurred in 2004. Speeding - defined as exceeding the posted speed limit or driving too fast for conditions - is a factor in nearly one-third of all fatal crashes. Speed reduces the amount of available time needed to avoid a crash, increases the likelihood of crashing and increases the severity of a crash once it occurs. The public needs to be made more aware of the dangers of speeding. If we are to combat this dangerous, life-threatening behavior, we must devote increased resources to better enforcement, including more law enforcement officers to patrol the highways, and we must support technological advances, such as video cameras (also known as "photo radar"), to target aggressive, speeding drivers.


Speeding-related crashes resulted in 13,192 fatalities in 2004. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, 2005)

The economic costs of crashes that involved excessive speed were $40.4 billion, representing 18 percent of total crash costs and an average cost of $144 for every person in the United States. (NHTSA, 2002)

When speed increases from 40 mph to 60 mph, the energy released in a crash more than doubles. (IIHS, 2003)

Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that when speed limits were raised by many states in 1996, travel speeds increased and motor vehicle fatalities went up approximately 15 percent on Interstate highways in those states.

The relative proportion of speeding-related crashes to all crashes decreases with increasing driver age. In 2002, 39 percent of male drivers 15 to 20 years old who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash. (NHTSA, 2003)

Alcohol and speeding are a deadly combination. In 2002, 42 percent of drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared to only 15 percent of sober drivers involved in fatal crashes. (NHTSA, 2003)

In 2002, 38 percent of all motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were speeding. The percentage of speeding involvement in fatal crashes was approximately twice as high for motorcyclists as for drivers of passenger cars or light trucks, and the percentage of alcohol involvement was about 45 percent higher for motorcyclists. (NHTSA, 2003)


When Texas increased its speed limit from 55 mph to 70 mph, the average speed on a sampling of Texas's urban freeways and interstate highways increased substantially. Prior to the increase, 15 percent of cars on these roads were exceeding 70 mph and 4 percent were exceeding 75 mph. After the speed limit increase, 50 percent were exceeding 70 mph and 17 percent were traveling faster than 75 mph. (IIHS, 2003)

When Virginia raised its speed limit to 65 mph in 1988, the percentage exceeding 70 mph went from 8 percent in 1988 to 39 percent by 1994. (IIHS, 2003)

In states where speed limits were raised to 65 mph in 1987, the higher limits are causing 15-20 percent more deaths on rural interstates each year. In states that raised rural speed limits, more than 400 lives are lost each year because of higher limits. (IIHS, 2003)

As of June 2003, 29 states have raised speed limits to 70 mph or higher on portions of their roads and highways. (IIHS, 2003)

In a public opinion poll conducted by Lou Harris for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in May 1996, 52 percent of those polled said they were concerned that they will feel unsafe on the highways because drivers would go "much faster," exceeding even the posted limits. In a 2001 Lou Harris poll, 77 percent of those polled said they want to see more done about speeding on local streets and highways.


Radar signals can be used to trigger cameras that photograph speeding vehicles as they pass a specified point. These photo radar devices use a low-powered doppler radar speed sensor to detect speeding vehicles and trigger a motor-driven camera and flash unit to photograph vehicles traveling faster than a set speed. Like red light cameras, speed cameras generate photographic evidence that gives the date, time, place and vehicle speed. Currently, only four states (AZ, CA, CO, OR) and DC have begun using speed photo radar. (IIHS 2003)

Speed photo radar has been used for more than 20 years in a number of countries including Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and Taiwan. (IIHS, 2003)

In Victoria, Australia, speed photo radar was introduced in late 1989, and police reported that within three months the number of offenders triggering photo radar decreased by 50 percent. Deaths fell 30 percent in 1990 compared with 1989. The percentage of vehicles significantly exceeding the speed limit has decreased from about 20 percent in 1990 to less than 4 percent in 1994. (IIHS, 2003)

Research from British Columbia, Canada, shows a 7.4 percent decline in crashes and up to 20 percent fewer deaths the first year speed photo radar was used. The proportion of speeding vehicles declined from 66 percent in 1996 to less than 40 percent today, and researchers also attribute a 10.5 percent decline in daytime injuries to photo radar. (IIHS, 2003)

September 2005

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