Farmers: Speedy Drivers Ignore Safety Statistics

November 9, 2004

In a recent Farmers Insurance Group survey, 69.2 percent of respondents reportedly admitted to exceeding the posted speed limit on the highway. Furthermore, 36 percent said they regularly exceed the posted speed limit by five or more miles per hour, and 22 percent said they repeatedly drive 10 or more miles per hour over the speed limit.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding is a factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes, killing an average of 1,000 Americans every month. In addition, the NHTSA estimates the economic cost to society of speed-related crashes to be more than $40 billion each year.

“Speeding reduces the amount of available time needed to avoid a crash and increases the likelihood of an accident and the severity of a crash once it does occur,” Greg Ciezadlo, vice president, Personal Lines, Auto Product Management for Farmers Insurance, remarked. “Yet motorists continue to endanger their lives and the lives of others by speeding or driving too fast for conditions.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that when many states raised their speed limits in 1996, motor vehicle fatalities went up approximately 15 percent on Interstate highways in those states.

Speeding not only routinely occurs on freeways but also reportedly on local streets.

Many commuters opt to take “surface streets” thinking they can more efficiently escape traffic and avoid congested freeways. A 2002 NHTSA study revealed that 87 percent of speeding-related fatalities occurred on roads that were not Interstate highways. According to Ciezadlo, driving 45 miles per hour instead of 35 on a five-mile trip saves less than two minutes. Nonetheless, 52.3 percent of the Farmers Insurance survey respondents said they exceed the speed limit while driving to and from work or school.

Weather also plays a significant role: speeding was a factor in 53 percent of fatal crashes that occurred when there was snow or slush on the road and in 60 percent of those that occurred on icy roads.

“Most of the time, these accidents can be traced to drivers who think they can go faster than the conditions will allow them, or they’re in a hurry to get to their destination,” Ciezadlo said.

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