Why Speeding Causes More Fatal Crashes

Van speeding on highway with motion blur

Speeding is a factor in nearly 30% of all car crash fatalities, and there’s a very good reason why. Not only does speeding require faster reflexes to avoid a crash, but the very act of speeding causes more fatal crashes.

A Simple Formula

When it comes to a crash, speeding is intrinsically more dangerous, and the answer why lies with basic physics. Remember that force of impact = mass x acceleration. In other words, the heavier something is and the faster it’s traveling, the more significant the damage on impact.

Let’s run a thought experiment to demonstrate. Let’s say you, like most Americans, drive a mid-sized SUV weighing 5,000 lbs. Let’s take a look at the force of impact for two different highway speeds.

Standard Highway Speed (65 MPH) = 14,763 lbs of force on impact

Speeding on the Highway (70 MPH) = 15,851 lbs of force on impact

In this case, that little increase of 5mph increases the force of impact by over 1,000 lbs! Consider that most of your bones can only withstand around 750 lbs of direct force before fracturing, and you start to see the problem.

That seemingly small increase can easily be the difference between a severe crash and a fatal one. And the effect is multiplicative, so the amount of force dispersed in a crash rapidly increases as you approach 75 or 80 MPH.

Acceleration AND Mass

Also, remember that this effect isn’t just based on speed. Larger vehicles (or fully-loaded ones) are heavier and require more energy to move. That, in turn, translates to significantly more damage in a potential crash.

Let’s take a look at those same crashes as before, but this time the car is fully loaded with an extra 1,000 lbs of passengers, luggage, and whatever else. Now your car weighs 6,000 lbs, and so the force is significantly increased.

Standard Highway Speed (65 MPH) = 17,716 lbs of force on impact

Speeding on the Highway (70 MPH) = 19,021 lbs of force on impact

Again, the effect is multiplicative, and so the force of impact is significantly higher than before, even though nothing about the car itself has changed. While a car’s crumple zone is designed to absorb the force of impact and reduce injuries, most vehicles only absorb 20% of the collision force from the front and 5% from the sides.

So what does all this mean for the people in the car? As a point of comparison, more than 20,000 lbs of force in a crash significantly increases the risk of a fatality. So, next time you feel the urge to speed, remember that going faster doesn’t just increase the chance of being in a crash; it also significantly increases the chances that any crash you’re involved in is fatal.

If you or someone you love were seriously injured in a crash, we can fight for you. If you’d like an experienced Connecticut accident attorney from RisCassi & Davis, P.C. to evaluate your case, don’t hesitate to call us at (860) 245-2412 or send us an email!

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