Speeding by the Numbers
A compendium of stats on speeding and traffic safety in the U.S. and Canada
Since 1967, speeding has been cited as a safety issue in 49 major NTSB highway accident investigations [Source: NTSB]. Speed raises crash risk in two ways:
- Increases the likelihood of being involved in a crash
- Increases the severity of injuries sustained by all road users in a crash
When you evaluate data related to speeding drivers, it’s easy to see why smart, effective traffic calming is so important. Below are stats from the U.S. and Canada, where driver feedback signs from Radarsign are slowing speeding drivers and helping to save lives.
- Speeding triples the odds of crashing. [Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety]
- Higher speeds mean more severe injuries when crashes occur.
- At 40 mph, a driver has a 15% risk of serious (or worse) overall injury.
- At 50 mph, the risk is 59%.
- At 55 mph, the risk is 78%.
- At speeds of 50 mph or higher, drivers also are at high risk (52% – 67%) of facial fracture and severe brain injury. [Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety]
- In 2011 alone, 9,944 lives were lost in speeding-related crashes. [Source: NHTSA, 2014]
- In 2014, passenger vehicles constituted 77% of speeding vehicles involved in fatal crashes, and 78% of all speeding-related fatalities involved a speeding passenger vehicle. [Source: NTSB 2017]
- Speeding in residential areas is the most common citizen complaint faced by local police, city councils and HOAs. [Source: DOJ/COPS Office]
- Most residential speeders live near the area of the offense. [Source: The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services]
- Speeding increases both the risk of a crash and the risk of injuries and fatalities in crashes. [Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety]
- Speeding was documented in almost one-third of all fatal traffic crashes in 2005.[Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety]
- When travel speed increases by 1%, the injury crash rate increases by about 2%, the serious injury crash rate increases by about 3%, and the fatal crash rate increases by about 4%. The same relation holds in reverse: a 1% decrease in travel speed reduces injury crashes by about 2%, serious injury crashes by about 3%, and fatal crashes by about 4%. [Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety]
- Probability of a crash increases as a vehicle’s travel speed rises above the average travel speed of surrounding vehicles. [Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety]
- Fewer than one-sixth of all speed-related fatalities nationwide occur on interstates.[Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety]
- In fatal crashes, about 55% of all speeding-related crashes were due to “exceeding posted speed limits” as compared to the 45% that were due to “driving too fast for conditions.” The comparable percentages for speeding-related injury crashes were 26% versus 74% and those for PDO (property-damage-only) crashes were 18% versus 82%. [Source: NHTSA]
General Motor Vehicle Fatalities
- In 2019, an estimated 38,800 people lost their lives to car crashes, down 2% from 2018 (39,404 deaths) and 4% from 2017 (40,231 deaths). [Source: National Safety Council 2021]
- The estimated cost of motor vehicle deaths, injuries, and property damage in 2017 was $413.8 billion, a decrease of 1% from 2016. The costs include wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, employer costs and property damage. [Source: National Safety Council 2017]
- Motor vehicle deaths increased in both 2016 (40,200 deaths, up 6% from 2015) and 2015 (37,757 deaths, a 7% increase from 2014). This was the first time the annual fatality total exceeded 40,000 since 2007. [Source: National Safety Council 2017]
Speeding and Driver Behaviors
- 83% of drivers believe speeding is a safety concern, yet 64% say they are comfortable speeding. [Source: National Safety Council 2017]
- Speeding on freeways and on residential streets is prevalent. Half of drivers (50.3%) reported driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway and 47.6% reported driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street. [Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety 2018]
- There is greater social disapproval for speeding on a residential street than on freeways. Only 23.9% of drivers believe that driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway is completely or somewhat acceptable while only 14.0% of motorists deem driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street as acceptable. [Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety 2018]
- 81% of drivers report driving every day or almost every day. Nearly 3-in-1 say they enjoy driving as fast as possible [Source: NHTSA 2011]
- 91% of drivers believe that “Everyone should obey the speed limit because it’s the law.” [Source: NHTSA 2011]
- Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and allow shorter headways (the distance from the front of one vehicle to the front of the next). The presence of male teenage passengers increases the likelihood of this risky driving behavior. [Source: CDC]
- Since 1997, the number of drivers stopped by police for speeding has fluctuated very little, hovering between nine and 11%. Of those stopped for speeding, drivers receiving tickets has also remained stable, varying between 65 and 70%. [Source: NHTSA]
Pedestrians and Traffic
- There were 6,590 pedestrian deaths in 2019, the highest number in more than 30 years and a 5% increase over 2018. [Source: US News & World Report]
- In 2019, five states accounted for 47 percent of all pedestrian deaths:
- Texas [Source: Governors Highway Safety Association]
- A pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling 20 mph has a 5% chance of fatality. This increases to 45% at 30 mph, and 85% at 40 mph. [Source: NHTSA]
- 12 states (Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming) and District of Columbia each had fewer than 10. [Source: GHSA 2018]
- Arizona had the highest rate of pedestrian deaths per resident population, while Hawaii had the lowest. [Source: GHSA 2018]
- New Mexico had the highest pedestrian fatality rate (3.45), while Nebraska had the lowest (0.68).
- The number of pedestrian fatalities in the United States increased 25% from 2010 to 2015, while at the same time, total traffic deaths increased by about 6%. [Source: GHSA 2018]
- Pedestrians now account for the largest proportion of traffic fatalities recorded in the past 25 years. [Source: GHSA 2018]
- In recent years, the number of pedestrian fatalities in the United States has grown substantially faster than all other traffic deaths. The number of pedestrian fatalities increased 27%from 2007 to 2016, while at the same time, all other traffic deaths decreased by 14%. [Source: GHSA 2018]
Driver Feedback Signs
- Radar speed signs are scientifically proven to slow traffic and to be effective as a long-term traffic-calming solution. Studies show that:
- up to 80 percent of speeders will slow down when alerted by a radar sign
- Speeds are reduced by 10-20 percent.
- Overall compliance with the posted speed limit improves by 30-60 percent.
- In a national survey, about 80 percent of all drivers said they exceeded the speed limit on all types of roads, from Interstate highways to neighborhood streets, within the past month. One-third reported that they were speeding on the day of the interview.
- Driver feedback signs are the most preferred speeding countermeasure with 89 percent of drivers giving radar speed signs the highest approval rating of all speeding countermeasures. [Source: NHTSA]
- Radar speed signs can be used to slow speeding drivers AND reduce legal exposure with issues related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Its an important consideration for elderly and disabled citizens who charge that vertical devices cause undue pain, suffering, and injury whenever they routinely encounter these roadway modifications. Generally, these citizens are opposed to the vertical devices such as speed humps, raised crossings and traffic circles on public right of ways. [Source: NATCO.org and EEOC]
- Driver feedback signs combat “autopilot journeys,” familiar routes to work, shopping and carpool where drivers can become inattentive. 46 percent of drivers report making these journeys and having no recollection of how they got to their destination. [Source: Churchill Insurance Study]
- The signs remain effective and can become even more effective over time.
- In locations where radar signs had been installed for six or more years, the majority of 85th percentile speeds dropped by 10 percent or more. [Source: City of Bellevue Transportation Study]
- Almost the same speed reduction was being achieved four months after installation. [Source: Texas Transportation Institute]
- Data confirms a consistent reduction in average speeds and a 50 – 70 percent reduction in the number of drivers who speed more than five mph above the speed limit. More than two years after installation, data indicates a long-term shift in driver behavior (Alpharetta, GA location, comparing week-one data with week-109 data). [Source: Radarsign]
- Other studies have shown drivers exhibit traveling significantly reduced speeds even months after the sign are removed.
- When used in highway work zones, these signs reduce mean vehicle speed an average of 5.2 mph. Additionally, highway workers thought the speed signs increased driver awareness and “significantly lowered speeds” in the area. [Source: FHWA]
- 40% of speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes were 16 to 24 years of age.
- 47% of drivers believe that speeding is a main cause of traffic collisions; however, 70% admitted to exceeding the speed limit at least sometimes, particularly on highways (81%).
Pedestrians and Traffic
- Over the period 2004-2008, 13% of fatalities were pedestrians, while motorcyclists and bicyclists accounted for 8% and 2% of fatalities respectively. In total, vulnerable road users account for almost a quarter of traffic fatalities in Canada.
- 75% of pedestrian traffic fatalities occurred on urban roads.
- 6% of fatally injured pedestrians were under the age of 16, and of these, 20% ran out into the street.
Cyclists and Traffic
- 38% of fatally injured motorcyclists had been speeding prior to the crash.
- About 2% of traffic fatalities are bicyclists.
NOTE: All Canadian stats from Transport Canada