Updated July 22, 2022

Dangers of Speeding: Why Is it Illegal, and What Are the Legal Consequences?

It is illegal to drive over the speed limit as deemed “safe” by reasonable regard to traffic conditions. Driving over the speed limit at any rate can be extremely dangerous to the driver, passengers, and others on the road. 

Although it may not always be top of mind on a routine outing, it is important to pay attention to your speed on the road. Speeding can not only result in crashes, but the driver or responsible party can also face serious legal consequences. 

Speeding Facts

Speeding accidents happen all around our country, and Indiana is no different. Speeding problems can and do happen everywhere. That’s why it’s so important for every driver on the road to be aware of their speed and the speed of those around them to lessen the consequences of speeding in Indiana and the U.S. as a whole.

Here are some speeding statistics to consider when on the road. Many of these statistics are taken from the latest Indiana Crash Facts Book Report

  • There were a total of 11,258 speeding-related deaths in the United States in 2020.
  • Speeding is the cause of nearly one-third (⅓) of all fatalities involving car or vehicle accidents.
  • In Indiana specifically, there were 20,200 speed-related collisions in 2019.
  • 26.3% of fatal collisions in Indiana were speed-related in 2019.
  • 15,926 speed-related collisions resulted in some sort of property damage in Indiana.
  • 12,079 collisions happened in Indiana due to drivers speeding too fast for weather conditions. 
  • Motorcycles and mopeds were some of the most affected vehicles involved in speed-related collisions in Indiana at 10.9%.
  • Of those speeding in Indiana collisions, 700 of those drivers were found to be intoxicated. 
  • According to the National Safety Council, 45% of fatalities in which speeding was a factor happened on roads with water on them in 2020. 

Why Is Speeding Dangerous?

Speeding not only refers to driving over the posted speed limit. Speeding can also include other behavior, such as driving too fast for road conditions like rain or ice, or driving carelessly through construction zones. The most common dangers caused by speeding include but are not limited to:

  • Increased occurrence of rollover accidents
  • Increased potential for loss of control as a driver
  • Higher severity of crash if accident does occur
  • Increased distance needed to safely stop a vehicle
  • Reduced reaction time
  • Possible failure to yield, resulting in an accident

In addition to the dangers of speeding that result in accidents, speeding can also lead to frequent speeding tickets and points on your license, increased insurance rates, increased wear and tear on your vehicle, and increased fuel costs.

Why Do Drivers Speed?

Many people speed, often for reasons unrelated to aggressive behavior. Some reasons why drivers speed include traffic congestion, running late, as well as simple disregard for the law.

Traffic

Frustration while driving through heavy traffic can increase a driver’s aggressiveness and result in speeding. Drivers frustrated by traffic tend to change lanes frequently or express road rage toward other drivers.

Running Late

It’s never good when you look at the clock and realize it’s 15 minutes past when you were originally supposed to leave. This happens to the best of us, often making individuals want to drive faster in order to try to make up time on the road. Running late for work, meetings, school, appointments, or other activities is common and can be a big factor in why drivers speed. Plus, when worrying about being late, a driver can be more easily distracted since their mind is on places other than the road in front of them.

Disobeying the Law

Many drivers speed without showing any signs of aggressiveness or road rage. Speeding can simply be a result of not wanting to drive according to the law due to one’s own personal agenda or desire to get somewhere quicker.

Distracted Driving

Blatant unawareness of the speed at which people are driving is a large factor in speeding. Whether it’s thinking about where they’re going, talking to a passenger in the car, or any other form of distracted driving, a driver may not even realize how fast they are going until it’s too late.

Other Reasons Why People Speed

Even if not everyone knows the specific dangers of speeding, everyone knows not to speed. So, why do people still do it? There are many reasons why, and identifying the reason for speeding in the moment is the first step to stopping the risky behavior:

  • Unawareness of the speed limit
  • The desire to drive fast in a certain type of car (think Mustang or Ferrari) 
  • Other drivers around them are speeding
  • Overconfidence in their driving and/or reaction time
  • Pressure from passengers
  • Not knowing the maximum speed limit in a work zone Indiana

Read more about the common causes of road accidents in WKW’s car accident blog.

Accidents Caused by Speeding

In the United States, nearly one-third of all car crashes are a result of speeding. When speeding, the driver has less time to react to other drivers on the road or to road conditions. There are many common accidents related to speed, including:

  • Head-on collisions
  • Failing to yield
  • Failure to stop
  • Side collisions
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Intersection crashes
  • Accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists

Excessive speed can be a factor in any accident. High speeds also increase the severity of injury and fatality rates and can cause excessive property damage compared to accidents where high speeds may not have been a factor.

Safety Tips to Avoid Crashes Caused by Speeding

One of the main problems with speeding is that it is easy to mindlessly forget the speed limit, to be in a hurry, or to become frustrated and aggressive while on the road. To avoid accidents or other dangers caused by speeding, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. It’s better to be early than late and having extra time to get places may reduce your inclination or need to speed.
  • Be patient. While other drivers on the road may frustrate or even infuriate you, actively focus on keeping your cool so that you and others arrive at their destinations safely.
  • Be mindful of other drivers around you. Watching out for people speeding will help avoid an accident. If you notice someone speeding, let them pass you if you are in a safe spot to do so. 
  • Know the speed limit. When a speed limit sign is not posted or you are unsure, refer back to Indiana speed limit laws. In an urban district, the speed limit is 30 mph; in all streets except for subdivisions, the speed limit is 55 mph; on a highway or interstate, the maximum speed limit is 70 mph. Note that these limits are for cars only, not for buses or semi-trucks.
  • Be aware of what is happening inside and outside of your car. For example, if loud music is playing while you are driving through a city with a lot going on outside, it’s easy to become distracted and go over the speed limit.
  • Be aware of the weather. Speeding is about staying safe, not necessarily meeting the maximum speed limit. If Indiana roads are icy, the dangers of speed increase that much more. Be aware of inclimate weather conditions in order to stay safe on rainy and icy roads.

In addition to these points, it’s also important to be familiar with Indiana’s “Move Over” laws. When there is an emergency vehicle, you need to move over to let it through. If a vehicle is stopped and has flashing lights, merge so that there is a lane open between it and your vehicle.

Legal Consequences of Speeding

The consequences of speeding vary widely depending on the circumstances. If a driver is pulled over, they may receive a speeding ticket resulting in points added to their license. Ticket costs can range from anywhere between $75 and $400, depending on the state laws and your driving record.

First- or second-time offenders probably won’t lose their license. With three or more violations in the past five years, however, that risk increases. Where speed is a factor along with additional factors, penalties and consequences may be higher or different altogether. 

Steps to Take Following an Accident

Car crashes and other auto accidents are scary, especially when high speeds are involved. If you are involved in an auto accident, follow these steps to ensure safety:

  • Stay calm and get to a safe spot
  • Check self and others for injuries
  • Seek medical attention
  • Call 911
  • Document the accident
  • Collect information from witnesses and additional parties involved
  • Inform insurance company
  • Contact an attorney

Dangers of Speeding FAQs

Is it Illegal to Drive Under the Speed Limit?

It is not illegal to drive under the speed limit, particularly in harsh weather conditions. However, it may be dangerous. Indiana law requires drivers to drive at the speed that is posted. Take a look at the “Speed Limits” section of the Indiana Driver’s Manual for more information on speeding.

What Is the Excessive Speed Meaning?

We’ve talked a lot about speeding, but what is speeding, exactly? According to the Indiana Crash Facts Book, speed-related is defined as an unsafe speed that leads to the cause of a collision. This means that excessive speed can either be the main reason or a contributing factor to an accident.

At What Speed Does a Car Crash Become Fatal?

There is no particular speed that causes a fatality in a car crash. Instead, it is the intensity of the crash and what damage is done to the people and property involved. However, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), tests conclude that driving 50 mph or above is more likely to result in injury or death than driving at speeds below that.

Car damage at different speeds can range from minor injuries to fatalities. That’s why it’s so important to be cautious while on the road.

How Many Accidents Are Caused by Speeding Each Year?

In Indiana, there were 188 fatalities involving speed-related collisions in 2019

Is Speeding the Main Cause of Accidents?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is the leading cause of accidents nationwide. Speeding can contribute to distracted driving. 

Contact an Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident as a result of speeding, contact the Indianapolis attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham today. We can help you get the compensation you deserve. 

Call 317.689.0654 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. We look forward to hearing from you!

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