What data tells us
- Of the total 5.7 million crashes in 2013, one-third (32% or 1.8 million) were rear-end crashes, where stopping distance mattered. More people (503,000) were injured in rear-end crashes than any other type of crash.
- In 2013, speeding was a contributing factor in 29 percent of all fatal crashes, and 9,613 lives were lost. Speeding-related fatalities decreased by 2 percent from 2012. They have been about one-third of all fatal crashes since 2002.
- The youngest males are most likely to die in speeding-related crashes: 15- to 20-year-old males (35%), 21- to 24-year-old males (35%), and 25- to 34-year-old males (30%). There is a steady drop with age for males.
- Up to age 34, almost twice as many males die in speeding crashes than females.
- Most speeding-related fatalities occur in crashes on non-interstate highways. Of those who die in run-off-the-road crashes, consistently more were speeding on curves than not speeding. The greatest proportion of speeding-related fatal crashes occur between midnight and 3 a.m.
Speeding and alcohol
- In 2013, almost 3 in 4 (74%) of speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes between midnight and 3 a.m. were alcohol-impaired (blood alcohol concentration [BAC] of .08 g/dL or higher) compared to 43 percent of non-speeding drivers.
- One-third (34%) of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding, more than any other vehicle type. Thirteen percent of all motorcycle riders who died were speeding and had BACs of .08 g/dL or higher, compared to 10 percent for drivers of passenger cars, 8 percent for light trucks, and less than 0.5 percent for large trucks.
- More than 1 in 4 (28%) of the speeding drivers under age 21 involved in fatal crashes also had BACs of .08 g/dL or higher, even though Zero Tolerance laws are in effect in every State.
What people tell us
According to NHTSA's nationally representative telephone survey, three broad categories characterize drivers in 2011 (2011 National Survey of Speeding Attitudes and Behaviors).
- Self-professed speeders say they sometimes or often drive 15 mph over the speed limit* on divided highways, tend to pass other cars more often than being passed, keep up with the fast traffic, and were stopped for speeding in the past year. Speeders account for 3 in 10 drivers (30%), or about 63.6 million American drivers. Nonspeeders also account for 3 in 10 drivers (30%), about 63.6 million American drivers.
- Sometime speeders, who are in the middle, say they pass other cars and are passed about equally, keep up with the fast traffic or stay with slower traffic about equally, will exceed 15 mph on divided highways on occasion, and were stopped for speeding in the past year. Sometime speeders make up the majority of drivers, 4 in 10 (40%), almost 85 million American drivers.
- Speeders were more likely
- to engage in other risky behaviors (no seat belt, drinking and driving, or using a cell phone while driving); and
- to have been injured in a crash while driving.
- The percentage of drivers who reported that they drove every day or almost every day has steadily dropped from 88 percent in 1997 to 83 percent in 2002 to 81 percent in 2011. Drivers who say they tend to pass other cars have also dropped (31%, 30%, and 27%, respectively).
- Enjoyment of driving fast appears to have decreased over time (40%, 34%, and 27%) while worry about having a crash has held steady (47%, 46%, and 48%).
- In the past 5 years, over 6.3 million drivers (3%) say they have been in a speeding-related crash and 2.1 million drivers (1%) have been in two or more speeding-related crashes.
- The proportion of drivers who received speeding tickets has been relatively constant (61%, 62%, 68%) over these years.
*A speed limit is the maximum legal driving speed allowed under ideal conditions. If construction or bad weather make that speed unsafe, the law requires you to drive at a safe speed that is slower than the posted limit.