Do Drivers Ignore Speed Limits?

In American society, we grow up learning that it is important to follow the rules. We are taught to respect parents, law enforcement officers, teachers, and other authority figures, and to follow their instructions. Thus, we hope that simple tasks taught in childhood, such as standing in line, will ultimately lead to mature adults who abide by our laws, such as the rules of the road. 

While we hope that all members of society turn into responsible adults who contribute positively to society, we know that there will always be those who buck the system. In some instances, the failure to conform is extremely serious, such as those who commit serious crimes. In other instances, people may view some of their choices as relatively insignificant, such as the failure to abide by certain traffic laws. Unfortunately, what may at first seem like a very mild traffic infraction can lead to death and serious personal injury for others. In this article, we will discuss whether drivers simply ignore speed limits.

The Dangers and Prevalence of Speeding

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding is endangering the entire motoring public. NHTSA states that speeding contributed to 26 percent of traffic fatalities in 2019. In many years over the last two decades, speeding contributed to one-third or more of traffic fatalities.

Notwithstanding these dangers, speeding is exceedingly common. In October 2021, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety issued its 2020 Traffic Safety Culture Index report. (PDF) Even though many respondents found varying levels of speeding to be dangerous, 45 percent of them admitted that within the past 30 days they had driven on a freeway and exceeded the speed limit by 15 miles per hour.

Are Speed Limits Effective?

There seems to be a difference of opinion on the effectiveness of speed limits in general. One official consulted for a CNBC article noted that there is an element of culture involved - that many people view a speed limit more like a minimum speed to be achieved as opposed to a maximum speed. Another official opined that the primary factor for how fast people will drive is the way in which the road is built. In other words, if a road is constructed to accommodate high speeds, people will drive on the road at a high speed.

Thus, some people contend that speed limits have little impact on the way people drive. However, others note that there are governmental units who have had positive results after lowering speed limits. 

Reasons for Speeding

There are multiple reasons for speeding. We have probably all found ourselves running late at one time or another. People also speed and engage in aggressive driving behaviors when they face frustrating traffic conditions. NHTSA notes that some people become somewhat detached and speed because they feel anonymous in their cars. Then, there is a small percentage of drivers who simply ignore the law on a routine basis and drive aggressively on a regular basis.

Speeding, Negligence, and the Law

Speeding laws exist to protect all of us from danger. If a driver’s negligence, including speeding, results in an accident that injures another person, the law will allow a recovery for the personal injury and other damages.

Call with Questions

If you have been injured by a negligent driver, you will likely have questions about your rights. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield handle car accident, truck accident, and motorcycle accident cases all around Oregon. We understand that investigating an accident, evaluating a case, and dealing with insurance companies can be complicated. We are also experts on the law and will be happy to answer all of your questions in a free consultation. We are convinced that the only way to make our roads safer is to hold those accountable who negligently cause accidents.


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