Speeding a Frequent Cause of Crashes in Virginia

Excessive speed is a significant factor in many traffic accidents in Virginia. In fact, speeding drivers caused 40 percent of the 775 traffic fatalities recorded in 2012, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pointed out in a previous report, speeding accounts for so many wrecks and injuries because:

  • Safety equipment is not as effective when vehicles are traveling at excessive speeds. Guardrails, seatbelts, airbags, and other safety measures may not protect passengers at very high speeds.
  • High-speed driving increases the stopping distance for cars, trucks and other vehicles.  Furthermore, the driver of a speeding car has less time to recognize and respond to a road hazard, such as a traffic jam or animal in the road.
  • The faster a car or truck is traveling, the more difficult it is to control the vehicle’s steering. A car that goes out of control due to excessive speed may run off the road, roll over or rear-end another vehicle.

Traffic Accident Statistics

Traffic crashes are a leading cause of death, particularly for people between the ages of 4 and 34. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reported these facts about speed-related crashes in the state in 2012:

  • 313 people were killed in speed-related crashes, a 1.26 percent decrease from 2011.
  • 14,299 people were injured in speed-related crashes, a 2.67 percent increase from 2011.
  • 57 percent of speeding drivers involved in crashes were male.
  • 47 percent of speeding drivers involved in crashes were between the age of 21 and 40.
  • 78 percent of speed-related crashes occurred during clear weather and 59 percent during daylight.

In Virginia, a conviction of reckless driving for speeding in excess of 80 mph or speeding 20 mph or more above the posted speed limit remains on a driver’s record for 11 years.

Speed-related car crash deaths in Virginia are made worse when people do not wear seatbelts. Seatbelt use is at an all-time high nationwide, but those who ignore safety restraints are likely to die in the event of a car crash. Of people killed in traffic crashes in the state 2012, at least 297 were not wearing seatbelts or restraints, according to the NHTSA.