Admit It: Speeding is Stupid

Last Updated On: February 6, 2019
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Whoa, there, Mr. Exit Lane Passer! Consider for a moment what you gain at the risk of harm, as you cut pell-mell across multiple lanes of traffic. In short: it’s stupid to speed.

It is Stupid to Speed Over Short Distances
You have a 10-mile commute. Driving a straight trajectory, removing every hindering variable (e.g. other cars, traffic lights, weather, personal distraction, etc.), at 50 mph, you arrive in 12 minutes: 80 seconds per mile. But let’s suppose you drive 10 miles over the speed limit. All other variables being constant, you arrive in 10 minutes. Congratulations! You saved TWO minutes.

But today you’re in a big hurry, so you go 20 miles over the limit (70 mph). Your trip would take 8 minutes 57 seconds. Your per mile savings dropped from 20 seconds per minute (from 50 to 60 mph) to 8.6 seconds per minute (from 60 to 70 mph). Going 80 mph, your per-time savings falls to 6.4 seconds per mile. Increasing from 50 to 60 mph saves 20 seconds per mile, but you have to go 90 mph to save another 20 seconds, and 120 mph before you save the next. This is because speed must increase exponentially to reduce the same amount of time.

Let’s talk energy. Fuel efficiency for most vehicles is between 50-60 mph. Automatic, an efficiency mile tracker, collected user data to show conclusively how speeding saves a little time, but costs a lot of money. Their data reveals that going 70 mph instead of 65 mph saves 4 minutes per one-hour commute, at the cost of $46 per month, and a whopping $552 per year. Plus, higher speeds contribute more Co2 and greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

And most wrecks occur within 10 miles of home, with 30% occurring within a mile from home, according to multiple surveys. Familiarity may be a factor, but so is the increased likelihood of an accident the wider the variance between driver speeds.

It is Stupid to Speed Over Long Distances
The British Transportation Laboratory found that speeding accounted for 5-15% of all traffic accidents worldwide. Having an accident at 35 mph is 100% worse than having the same accident at 25 mph. The force of collision increases exponentially with speed, as explained in an article by Automotive Fleet. The same accident at 50 mph is 400% worse. At 75 mph, it is 900% worse than the same accident at 25 mph.

“Packing,” the traffic phenomena where a group of vehicles ends up in a tightly formed pack, results when multiple high-speed vehicles overtake a group of varied-speed vehicles. These driving conditions increase stress through prolonged heightened awareness, similar to levels of stress experienced by air traffic controllers. The resulting emotional fatigue causes all drivers to drive less optimally.

Finally, there is the cost of speeding. There are 41 million speeding tickets issued in the United States each year. With approximately 253 million cars in use, that’s 1 in 6.  In the UK, there are two million tickets issued annually, where there are 31.7 million vehicles in use. That’s 1 in 16.  A $100 ticket for going 10 miles over the speed limit will usually result in a $300 annual increase in automobile insurance.

Speeding Doesn’t Add Up
Add back the following variables: traffic, traffic signals, weather, and the occasional road hazard or wild animal. Calculate the cost of tickets, increased insurance, automobile damages, increased fuel costs, vehicle efficiency, the decreasing return on time saved as speed increases, and the environmental impact. Speeding just doesn’t make sense. At best, speeding saves you a couple of minutes every hour traveled. At worst, speeders are more likely to wreck with greater damage to self and others, with a substantial loss of income, and accelerated harm to the environment. With all these negatives, a question to ask yourself is, “Why am I speeding?” Often this comes down to an issue of time management.

This year, challenge yourself to drive slower. Download a speed tracking app. “Slow Down” is an iOS app that slows the driver’s music when he or she is speeding. “Photo Radar” is an app recommended for helping drivers reduce speed. If nothing else, at least admit it is stupid to speed.