Recent data from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) indicates that speeding plays a role in roughly 30% of all traffic fatalities. Across the country last year, over 9,700 individuals died in accidents where speed was a factor. In Washington, D.C., approximately 55% of fatal accidents are speed-related and this percentage is 29% in Maryland. Russ Martin, director of government relations, believes that the dangers of speeding are often overshadowed by campaigns focused on seat belt usage and drunk driving.
Speeding: An Underrated Danger
The dangers of speeding are often secondary concerns among drivers, lawmakers, and transportation agencies. Surveys of drivers in the U.S. suggest that the majority acknowledge the risks of speeding; however, many admit to speeding with some regularity. Local and state governments clearly have the ability to more aggressively enforce the speed limits, but often it is simply not prioritized. In recent years, some states have increased their speed limits and others have left these decisions up to the local agencies.
The Insurance Institute for Highway (IIHS) Safety Report
The majority of motorists are likely to agree that an increase in traveling speed translates to a higher frequency of crashes and heightens the severity of crashes. Speed has also been identified as a major factor in fatal crashes involving only one vehicle. A recent IIHS report highlighted several key findings:
- Those traveling at high speeds have less reaction time
- The distance needed for a vehicle to reach a complete stop increases based on the rate of speed
- Accident severity rises with increases in speed because the level of energy rises at the point of impact (collision)
- This level of energy increases by roughly 50% when speed is increased from 40 to 60 miles per hour
One method that has shown to be effective at the local level involves the implementation of “traffic-calming” methods. These include modifications to roadway design including the use of “roundabouts, bump outs, refugee islands” and changes to visual roadway signals. Enhanced enforcement of speed laws clearly has an effect and many localities now use automated speed detection methods to ticket motorists. These automated enforcement efforts often face local opposition from advocacy groups and political organizations.
Red Light and Speed Cameras
Speed cameras installed in residential areas of Maryland have shown to decrease the number of motorists that travel 10 miles per hour over the speed limit from between 70 to 88%. These results generally are recognized in as little as six months after installation. IIHS data shows that over 130 local entities use some type of speed camera technology. Approximately 10 states do not permit red light or speed cameras. In Washington, D.C., some red light cameras are capable of recognizing when a driver does not properly yield to pedestrians.
Recoverable Damages From Accidents in Maryland
Careless or reckless drivers, such as those traveling at excessive rates of speed, often create devastating vehicle accidents. Injured victims in crashes have a right to pursue financial compensation through a civil injury claim. The damages that may be recoverable are generally classified in economic or noneconomic categories. Economic damages are generally much easier to quantify or calculate. These include the costs of repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle or compensation for medical bills incurred. Noneconomic damages include those such as pain and suffering. Punitive damages are rarely applicable because they require that the defendant’s actions were done with intent or malice.