The Dangers of Speeding

Written by Andrew Traub

January 26, 2015

Why do people speed?

For young people, it might be for the thrill of it.  The thrill of going very fast, like on a carnival ride, but you’re in control.

For more mature people, it might be for more practical reasons – they are running late.  Late to work, to a meeting, or are behind schedule due to traffic.

But regardless of the reason, speeding in a car is very, very dangerous.

Cars Are Heavy

The E.P.A.’s weight statistics show that the average weight of a 2003 car or light-duty truck, like a pickup, sport utility, van or minivan, was heavier than in any model year since 1976, when the average peaked at 4,079 pounds.

Even at Slow Speeds, Heavy Objects Have a Lot of Force

According to Newton’s Second Law, the vector sum of forces F on an object is equal to the mass M of that object multiplied by the acceleration vector A of the object, or F = M x A.

This also means that the greater the mass of the object (our car), the greater the force required to move that object.

Here’s a web page which shows some sample calculations of the forces of impact with a car hitting a barrier.

Speed Kills

Here are some grim statistics about speeding in the United States:

  • Speeding accounts for 33% of fatal crashes
  • Speeding is the 3rd leading contributor in traffic crashes
  • Speeding accounts for 13,000 deaths each year
  • Speeding is a habitual driver behavior – in other words, people that speed tend to do it over and over again, making them a higher risk for other drivers

Think About It – Speeding is Stupid

Given the dangers that driving a heavy vehicle pose, it’s pretty dumb to speed for the thrill of it.  You risk your life, the lives of your passengers, and the other drivers on the road.

What about being late?  Think about that.  If you are in a 35 MPH zone and go an extra 10 MPH faster (about 1/3 faster) for a speed of 45 MPH, unless you are traveling hundreds of miles you will only shave a few minutes at best off your arrival time.  Since most trips are for short distances under one hundred miles, the savings are minutes, not hours.  So you take on a lot of risk in the form of danger and injury, just to save a few minutes.

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