You swear you'd never drive under the influence. You're well aware of the dangers, both to yourself and others. You only get behind the wheel if you're sober. You've been that way your entire life.
However, you do tend to push the speed limit a bit. At least, that's how you think of it. The reality is that you break that limit, almost every single time you drive.
You assume everyone does it. How bad is it to go 10 miles per hour over when you're late for work? Is it really that dangerous to exceed the 45 mph limit in what you think should be 55 mph zone? Aren't you not speeding because you're trying to stay with the flow of traffic?
No matter how you rationalize it, speeding is dangerous. Perhaps more so than you realized.
The National Transportation Safety Board, in an effort to find out why car accident deaths are not declining faster, studied the causes of those accidents. Researchers worked with about a decade's worth of data, giving them a good sample size.
From 2005 to 2014, they identified speeding as the top cause in wrecks leading to 112,580 deaths. That means speed killed just under a third -- 31 percent -- of all of those who died in traffic accidents.
Drunk driving deaths
What you may find shocking, then, is that drinking and driving caused 112,948 fatalities in the same time period. Technically, yes, that means drinking and driving took more lives. However, those numbers are so close over a 10-year span that they're virtually identical. Drinking and driving led to just as many deadly wrecks as speeding.
The NTSB report noted that speeding shares quite a bit with drunk driving. In both cases, reaction times drop and accidents are more likely. In both cases, the sheer odds of a deadly wreck also jump. The person killed could be the driver, but it could also be another passenger in the car or an unrelated person near the car -- such as a pedestrian trying to cross the road.
Typically, the penalties that you'd face if you got caught speeding would be a lot less extreme than the penalties that you'd face if you got convicted of drunk or impaired driving. The NTSB suggested that this should change, saying speeding needs to be treated more seriously.
As you can see, the risks you face on the road are very real. Maybe you've sworn off drunk driving and speeding. Maybe you're careful every day on your way to work.
That's great, but almost all drivers have broken the speed limit at one time or another. It happens constantly. For you, the risk still exists because you share the road with these individuals. You must know your rights if you're hurt in an accident.