On May 15, 2016, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report with detailed information about speed-related traffic fatalities for 2014.
The federal agency defines a crash as speed-related if a) a motorist received a citation for a speed-related violation, or b) law enforcement indicated that the motorist was either driving too fast for conditions, exceeding the posted speed limit or racing.
Percentages Higher in Minnesota
Given this definition, there were 9,262 speed-related traffic deaths in the United States in 2014. This represented 28 percent of the 32,675 total traffic fatalities across the country that year. The report shows that more Minnesota traffic fatalities are related to speed than on average across the country. In Minnesota, 31 percent of 2014 traffic fatalities occurred in speeding accidents, significantly above the national average of 28 percent.
Percentages Down, Overall Numbers Up
Although speed remains a factor in a significant percentage of traffic deaths nationwide, the overall percentage of speed-related fatalities has declined. From 2005 to 2012, speed-related fatalities represented 31 to 32 percent of total fatalities. In 2013, they represented 29 percent of all traffic deaths.
However, the National Safety Council (NSC) says that traffic deaths increased at a faster pace in 2015 than in any other year in the past half-century. The council says fatalities increased eight percent from 2014 to 2015. Therefore, the actual number of those killed in speed-related crashes is rising.
Rising Minnesota Speed Limits
This news arrives as speed limits continue to rise across the state. Beginning in 2014, the Minnesota Department Of Transportation began to survey the 6,700 miles of 55 mph roads in the state to determine which ones could support a higher speed limit. Although the DOT’s work will continue until 2019, increased speed limits will go into effect as the state agency makes each determination.
Minnesota is one state among many that has raised speed limits over the past couple of years, according to the Star Tribune. State legislatures and transportation departments face an ongoing need to balance demands that people and products move from place-to-place more quickly on one hand, with increased dangers supported by traffic statistics on the other.
Age a Factor in Speed-related Crashes
NHTSA’s report shows that speeding is a more common factor in fatal crashes involving younger motorists. For example, among male drivers 15 to 20 years old, 36 percent of the traffic fatalities involved speeding drivers. For 21 to 24-year-old males, the percentage is 34 percent. Regardless of whether a driver is male or female, the percentage of traffic fatalities involving speeding steadily declines from the youngest to the oldest age groups.
Speeding and Blood Alcohol Levels
NHTSA also looked at traffic fatalities where both speed and high blood alcohol levels were present. The statistics show that speeding and drunk driving or a deadly mix. For example, 17 percent of all motorists involved in fatal crashes had blood alcohol levels at or above the legal limit of .08. However, 41 percent of speeding motorists involved in fatal crashes had a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher.
Speeding and Seat Belts
The statistics also show that speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes were much less likely to be wearing their seatbelts than non-speeding drivers. For 2014, 51 percent of speeding motorists were restrained, compared to 78 percent of non-speeding motorists.
Speeding as Negligent Conduct
Excessive speed is often considered evidence of negligence when a crash results in injury or death. When it is reasonable to assert negligence, a victim may seek compensation by filing suit in the state’s civil court system. In many personal injury cases, it is often possible to seek compensation for medical expenses, pain-and-suffering, and lost wages.
If you or a loved one is a victim of a crash, it is possible to speak with an attorney about the incident. Our firm provides such a consultation to you without cost or obligation. We fight hard to get our clients the full compensation they deserve under the law. To learn more, or to schedule a visit, please contact us.