101 Critical Days of Summer: Built for speed

  • Published
  • By Steve Serrette
  • 72nd Air Base Wing Safety Office
Speeding is only one problem when it comes to private motor vehicle-related mishaps. When you take a look at the top six causes, you'll see that the greatest threat to drivers is the drivers themselves. These are the top six (in order), identified by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration: driver distraction, driver fatigue, drunk driving, speeding, aggressive driving and weather conditions.

This narrative focuses on speeding because, according to NHTSA, speed is involved in about one out of three fatal crashes. It is the third leading contributing factor to traffic crashes. But while injuries and fatalities due to other dangerous behaviors such as driving while impaired and not wearing seatbelts have been significantly reduced, speeding is still a challenge.

The most common traffic-law violation is speeding, outnumbering all other traffic violations combined. And how much time do you really save by speeding -- and risking a costly traffic ticket or, worse, causing a crash? Check out the time it takes to make a 30-mile trip at different speeds:

· 55 miles per hour = 32.7 minutes
· 65 miles per hour = 27.7 minutes (5 minutes saved)
· 75 miles per hour = 24 minutes (8.7 minutes saved)

This math assumes you can maintain a constant speed without slowing down for traffic, signals or curves in roads. In reality, you'd probably save only 4 minutes, at best. And keep in mind, most trips are short. The average time saved on a 5-mile trip, driving 65 mph on a 45 mph posted road, is only 1.9 minutes.

Formula: Time/mph x 60 (minutes)
Example: 30/75 = .4 x 60 = 24 minutes

Speeding is involved in about 13 percent of all crashes -- and 33 percent of all fatal crashes. Speeding increases the risk of a crash, because there is less time and distance available to respond. Our reaction times -- about 1 second for most drivers -- don't speed up just because we are going faster.
Is it worth it?

For more information on the remaining five causes, visit:

· http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=23181
· http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-involved/glee-campaign.html
· http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/DriverSafety/ Pages/Speeding.aspx
· http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/distracted-driving/
· http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/05/07/20 /the-6-most-common-causes-of-automobile-crashes.htm

Former Airman-to-Airman Safety Advisory Council member, Senior Airman Caleb Zody, experienced the tragic results of driver distraction. To see his story and others like it or to contact an A2A member, visit www.af.mil/specials/Airmanto Airman/index.html or contact your major command A2A POC, which can be found on the A2A site under "Contact Us".