Chicago car accident lawyers at Abels & Annes examine impact of speeding as part of Summer Safe Driving series

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More than half of all fatal car accidents in 2007 occurred on roads where the legal speed limit was 55 mph or greater.

As part of its Summer Safe Driving series, the Chicago car accident attorneys at Abels & Annes look at how speed impacts your safety behind the wheel of an automobile.

Almost 10,000 people were killed and more than 356,000 injured in 2007 on roads where the speed limit was 55 mph or higher, according to federal statistics.

Fully 90% of all licensed drivers speed at some point in their driving career; 75% admit to committing this offense regularly, according to Smart Motorist.

Smart Motorist uses the following example of a motorist and a pedestrian to illustrate speed:

If the car is traveling at just 30 mph, and the driver brakes when the pedestrian is 45 feet away, there will be enough space in which to stop without hitting the pedestrian. Increase the vehicle speed by just 5 mph and the situation changes dramatically. At 35 mph, with the pedestrian 45 feet away and the driver braking at the same point, the car will be traveling at 18 mph when it hits the pedestrian. An impact at 18 mph can seriously injure or even kill the pedestrian.

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Speed is cited as a factor in 30 percent of all crashes. In a study of 2,000 crashes in Indiana, excessive speed for conditions was identified as the second-most frequest cause of about 50 driver, vehicle and environmental factors.

Yet, perhaps surprisingly, speeding is not the lone culprit for speed-related accidents — driving too slowly also can increase your chances of an accident.

A landmark study as far back as 1964 found accident rates increase sharply for folks traveling either above or below the mean speed — in other words for those traveling either faster or slower than the norm for other drivers on the road.

However fatality rates for speeders are undisputed and increase exponentially with speed. That means an accident is not twice as likely to be fatal at 50 mph than at 25 mph — federal research shows it is 15 times more likely to be fatal.

Excessive speed reduces a driver’s ability to negotiate curves or maneuver around obstacles in the road, extends the distance necessary to stop and exponentially increases the force of impact.

The risk of fatality begins to rise with speeds over 30 mph and is more than 50 percent likely to be fatal at speeds over 60 mph. Moreover, the probability for death is 15 times higher at 50 mph than at 25 mph, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Federal statistics also show higher mean speeds for younger drivers, especially in high-performance vehicles. Young males were most at risk, nearly 40 percent of fatal crashes involving males age 15 to 20 years old were speed related, according to a 1995 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Speed facts provided by the Federal Highway Administration:

-The evidence shows that the risk of having a crash is increased both for vehicles traveling slower than the average speed, and for those traveling above the average speed.

-The risk of being injured increases exponentially with speeds much faster than the median speed.

-The severity of a crash depends on the vehicle speed change at impact.

-There is limited evidence that suggests that lower speed limits result in lower speeds on a system wide basis.

– Most crashes related to speed involve speed too fast for the conditions.

-More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of traffic calming.


Speeding is not only dangerous, it can be a liability in an auto accident that can even lead to serious criminal charges.

So give yourself and everyone around you a break this summer. Take a deep breath and slow down. You’ll still get where you are going. Probably just as fast.

If your or someone you love has been in a Chicago car accident, the attorneys at Abels & Annes offer free appointments to discuss your rights. There is no fee unless you win. Call (866) 99-ABELS.