The average driver saves 26 seconds a day by speeding.
People think it saves time. Maybe it does occasionally, if you run through a yellow light to avoid stopping for a minute.
But, the time savings, on average, is about 2 minutes a week.
- Speeding through an intersection drastically increases the risk of a serious crash, and
- Drivers are notoriously bad at judging how much time we need to get through before the light turns red;
that minor time savings is it not even close to worth the risk.
Changing how we think about speeding
We don’t think “driving over the posted speed limit” is anything near as dangerous as driving under the influence, or not wearing a seat belt. Most people drive over the speed limit regularly, maybe without even realizing it.
In a crash, the severity of injuries increases dramatically, depending on the speed of a driver.
Average fatality rates for people hit at 40 mph: 60% die.
Average fatality rates for people hit at 20 mph: 7% die.
That’s part of the reason Seattle changed the default speed limit of 30 mph to 25 mph at the end of 2016. The residential speed limit went down to 20 mph.
Portland, Oregon—another Vision Zero city—followed suit a couple of weeks ago.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who has lost three family members to motor vehicle crashes, spoke about the speed limit change.
“To people who say this won’t work, I say it might,” …
“To anyone who drives, I ask,
do you want to be the driver who causes a traffic fatality?
The problem with reduced speed limits: drivers need to actually obey the law in order for it to be effective.
Perhaps it would help if we understand that we’re not saving time—we’re just making the roads more dangerous.
Photo credit: City of Seattle Municipal Archives