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Reasons to drive slower

July 18, 2012
The Daily News

How's your speed? Do you comply with the posted speed limits, or do you cheat?

The guilty have lots of excuses for their behavior, but none of them hold up in court.

There are a lot of reasons to drive slower, however.

The following is a list of 10 reasons to slow down this summer. It was compiled by traffic safety experts.

- Because summer is the most fatal time on America's roads. The three months from Memorial Day through Labor Day are the deadliest on the nation's roads - with more fatal crashes and more children and teens dying than at any time of year. Americans travel more than one trillion miles in summer - an extra 10.5 million miles per month, collectively. Nationally, an average of more than 250 additional people die in traffic fatalities each month during the summer than the rest of the year. Of the 25 deadliest days on American roads, 20 of them fell between Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Some 13,000 Americans are killed annually in traffic accidents from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

- To save lives. Higher speeds mean more accidents and more fatalities - period. Studies have shown that nine out of 10 pedestrians will die when hit by a car at 40 mph. At 30 mph, half will survive, and at 20 mph, only one out of 10 pedestrians will be killed. Overall, about one-third of all fatal motor vehicle accidents involve at least one driver who was speeding.

- To save your own life. If you're traveling 10 miles per hour above the average speed on the road, you're six times more likely to be involved in a crash. The chances of death or serious injury, meanwhile, double for every 10 mph over 50 mph a vehicle travels. Even going 5 mph over the speed limit can greatly increase the risk of serious injury or death, because crash severity increases exponentially with speed. A frontal impact, for example, at 35 mph is one-third more severe than one at 30 mph.

- To save gas. The faster you drive, the more fuel you burn - and gas prices have never been higher in history. At speeds above 55 mph, fuel economy plummets rapidly. Slowing down from 65 to 55 increases your gas mileage by roughly 20 percent, while driving 65 rather than 75 improves fuel efficiency by 25 percent.

- To avoid expensive tickets. The average cost of a speeding ticket, with court fees, runs $150. In some states, driving just 5-10 miles over the speed limit can result in a $200 ticket, while driving 15-20 miles over the limit can cost $275. The average insurance increase over three years after a speeding ticket runs roughly $300. The bottom line: a run-of-the-mill speeding ticket will likely end up costing you at least $450-500.

- The government is planning tougher speeding crackdowns. Excessive speed has become a top priority with police agencies throughout the nation, and the government is pushing for high-visibility enforcement, with steep penalties for the worst speeders and expanded use of technology such as camera systems that automatically send tickets to violators.

- Speeding doesn't really save that much time. Speeding, with the goal of making up time on the road, has a surprisingly small payback. A driver traveling 20 miles in a 60 mph zone saves only 1.5 minutes by going 65; 2.9 minutes by going 70; 4 minutes speeding at 75 mph; 5 minutes at 80 mph; and 5.9 minutes speeding at 85 mph. Do the math for your own commute: How much time does driving 5-10 mph faster really save you?

- Speeding wastes money as well as lives. The human cost of speeding-related fatalities is inestimable, but the actual dollar cost can be neatly quantified: Americans spent more than $40 billion on accidents involving excessive speed last year - an entirely wasted expenditure that created no value or benefit. Speed-related crashes are costing America $44,193 a minute.

- Speeding isn't just a "big city" problem. Nearly 60 percent of fatal crashes occur on two-lane, undivided roads, and rural local roads are five times as dangerous as urban interstates. Rural citizens, meanwhile are two and a half times as likely to be killed on highways than their urban counterparts. Overall, the fatality rate on local roads is more than three times the rate on interstates.

- Speeding contributes to road rage. Summer driving means chaotic, congested roads, scorching temperatures, and screaming kids. Throw speeding into the mix, and you're contributing to that growing American crime: road rage. Fifty-four percent of current drivers report that they have been the victim of a road rage incident, and 78 percent say they've witnessed an incident of road rage. Additionally, one study of drivers found that pulse rates rise with speeding, because of tension generated from risks taken.

Slow down and live.



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