Editorial: Don’t speed, it could save your life

Traffic safety officials have a great tip that is rather obvious: Don’t Speed: It could save your life.

You don’t need a radar gun to confirm that many drivers on our highways are exceeding the speed limit. All you have to do

is drive on an interstate and watch as vehicles zip past you.

We got a hint of the extent of speeding in 2006 when the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development conducted

a spot speed study on various highways in different parts of the state. The study found that 79 percent of vehicles on the

interstate highways on which surveys were performed were exceeding speed limits. On U.S. highways, 81 percent of vehicles

were speeding and 80 percent were speeding on state routes. The spot study clocked vehicles traveling as fast as 93 mph.

Apparently, many speeding drivers

believe it is safe to do so, even though it is illegal and risky for

those in the vehicle

as well as others sharing the road. The National Highway Traffic

Safety Administration reports that speeding is a factor in

almost one-third of all highway crash deaths. In Louisiana,

aggressive driving, which includes speeding, is a factor in more

than half of all fatal crashes.

Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway, extends the distance necessary

to stop a vehicle, and increases the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to a dangerous situation. It takes

a driver traveling 60 mph about twice as long to stop a vehicle as one traveling 40 mph.

NHTSA research indicates that young,

male drivers are more likely to speed than their older counterparts. A

driver who’s prone

to speeding is also more likely than others to engage in a variety

of risky driving behaviors, such as driving while intoxicated

and not wearing seat belts, according to the NHTSA. In a 2008

study, the NHTSA reported that 41 percent of drivers who were

legally intoxicated and involved in fatal crashes were also

speeding, compared with only 15 percent of drivers who had not

been drinking and were involved in fatal crashes.

The number of people killed in

Louisiana crashes in 2011 was about one-third lower than in 2007, when

highway deaths peaked.

Preliminary data for 2012 indicates that our highway deaths

increased modestly after declines in 2008-2011. Most fatal crashes

could be avoided if all motorists obeyed the laws designed to make

it safer for them to travel. As we get into the heavy summer

driving season, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission urges all

drivers to avoid speeding, don’t drink and drive, make sure

they and all passengers are buckled up and adhere to all other

traffic laws.

Remember: Don’t Speed: It could save your life.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.