A state trooper pulls over a car full of elderly women traveling 22 mph.  The lady at the wheel claims she was driving at exactly the posted speed limit and points to a road sign that says “Route 22.”  The trooper chuckles, explains her error and is about to let her go when he notices that the other passengers seemed panicked.  He asks them what’s wrong, and one of them says, “We’ll be fine in a minute – we just came off Route 115.”

Speeding is against the law.  Why?  Because most of us aren’t trained or experienced in handling a vehicle at a high rate of speed, especially if that vehicle goes out of control.  So the answer, simply put, is that it’s too dangerous for ourselves and other motorists to drive at high speeds.

According to Advocates for Highway Safety, over 6 million reported car accidents occur annually.  Speeding — defined as exceeding the posted speed limit or driving too fast for conditions – is a factor in nearly one-third of all fatal car collisions.  Speed reduces the amount of available time needed to avoid a crash, increases the likelihood of crashing and intensifies the severity of a crash once it occurs.

Fast Facts

• Speeding-related collisions result in more than 13,000 fatalities annually.

• In 2002, the economic cost 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.

• When speed increases from 40 mph to 60 mph, the energy released in a car collision more than doubles.

• When speed limits were raised in 1996, travel speeds increased and motor vehicle fatalities went up approximately 15 percent.

Slow Pokes

When motorists drive too slowly, many dangerous situations can occur.  First, it creates a long line of frustrated drivers behind the slow poke.  Most wait patiently in hope that the slow person will pull over, but others will begin to tailgate.  While this in itself is illegal and dangerous, frustration builds, transforming law-abiding citizens into road warriors.

Some drivers get so frustrated they pull out of the lane in a fit of anger and pass on the right to catch up to the culprit, just so they can send a message with a digit or mouth some idiotic phrase that the guilty driver can’t hear anyway.

Nonetheless, you have the beginnings of road rage, and now a second person is driving recklessly.  Both of these drivers endanger all those around them.  Sometimes road ragers will zip around an “offending vehicle,” only to hit the brakes when they get the lead position.  This kind of slow driving is meant to punish or taunt another driver and is incredibly dangerous.  If you find yourself being taunted by an aggressive driver, either exit the highway or turn down a cross street.  Put a safe distance (preferably a few miles) between yourself and the road rager.