The NHTSA warns drivers of other risks of speedingMany conditions, events, and driver behaviors can lead to a traffic accident; however, some things lead to collisions more often than others. Speeding is one of those things. Speeding is the most common cause of fatal collisions across the United States and Virginia. It’s also the most common cause of injury collisions in Virginia.
If you have recently suffered injuries in a traffic collision, there is a good chance speeding contributed to the accident. Read below for more information about the prevalence of speeding-related accidents in Virginia, the state’s speeding laws, why driver’s speed, the dangers of speeding, and what to do if you are the victim of a speeding accident.
How Often Do Speeding-related Accidents and Injuries Occur?
Speeding-related collisions are on the rise across the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, in one year, more than 17 percent of drivers involved in fatal collisions were speeding. According to data from the Virginia Highway Safety Office, more than 20 percent of the state’s traffic collisions are speed-related, and about 80 percent of them occur on Virginia’s non-interstate roads and highways.
Additionally, speed-related crashes are responsible for:
- More than 45 percent of Virginia’s traffic fatalities
- More than 20 percent of Virginia’s traffic injuries
- Approximately one-third of all severe traffic injuries in the state
Speeding Laws in Virginia
Speeding may refer to going over the posted speed limit, or to traveling too fast for the road conditions. Although Virginia is known for its strict speeding laws, its legal code only deals with drivers who travel over the speed limit. Virginia law has two tiers of speeding violations.
The first statute refers to maximum speed limits:
- All interstates, divided highways, and state primary highways have a speed limit of 55 miles per hour unless otherwise posted.
- Trucks, tractor-trailers, tow vehicles, and house trailers must comply with a maximum 45 miles per hour speed limit.
- The absolute maximum posted speed limit is 70 miles per hour on interstates and divided highways and 60 miles per hour on other roads.
Drivers who exceed the above speed limits face fines and points against their driver’s license if they receive a citation. Those who travel over the speed limit excessively may fall into the second tier of speeding violations, which fall under reckless driving. Under Virginia law, reckless driving is a criminal offense that can result in jail time.
Why Drivers Speed
The NHTSA has identified common risk factors that often correlate with speeding. They include:
- Heavy traffic. Traffic congestion causes some drivers to speed, especially when they find an open area to get around slowed or stopped cars, which they may try to take as an opportunity to escape traffic.
- Running late. Everyone has demanding schedules; some manage by darting between appointments and obligations, often running behind. Many speeders try to make up time when they are running late for work, school, meetings, events, and more.
- Feeling anonymous. Drivers are isolated from others in their vehicles, especially if they have tinted windows. Some speed because they feel they can retain anonymity while doing so, or that they won’t see the drivers around them again.
- Recklessness. Some drivers are habitual speeders and have complete disregard for the safety of others on the road. They lack concern about whether they break the law or cause a dangerous car accident.
Why Is Speeding so Dangerous?
Speeding leads to more fatal accidents than any other driving behavior. This is not only true in Virginia but across the United States. Elementary physics explains why. Newton’s Second Law of Motion is that force equals mass times acceleration (F=ma). According to the formula, traffic collisions with the most force involve heavy vehicles and high acceleration. Speeders greatly increase the force in an accident, which tends to cause more severe or fatal injuries.
Speeding truck drivers are the most dangerous, as most heavy trucks weigh at least 20 times more than the average passenger vehicle.
The NHTSA warns drivers of other risks of speeding, such as:
- Making it more difficult to control a vehicle, increasing the chance drivers lose control if they come upon a critical or hazardous situation
- Car manufacturers design seat belts, airbags, and other safety equipment based on average speeds and, thus, excess speed reduces the effectiveness of this equipment
- Speeding drivers need more time to stop for stoplights or signs, cars in front of them, and animals or other hazards on the road
- Speeding drivers face the financial consequences of accidents, including medical bills, vehicle damage, and lost income
- Speeding is costly because it requires vehicles to burn more fuel
Steps to Take After Being Hit in a Speed-Related Accident in Virginia
After a crash due to speeding, you might be uncertain about what to do next, especially if another driver caused the accident.
You can immediately protect your health and well-being and your legal rights if you:
Call 911 Immediately
If you’re physically able, call 911 to alert emergency response teams to come to the scene of the accident. Your health and safety are the top priority, so make sure you get emergency medical transport, if necessary, and, in any case, have a doctor check you out as soon as possible after the accident. Hidden injuries may not show symptoms for hours, days, or even weeks, so you risk doing more damage by denying medical treatment.
Collect Information Consult a Virginia Car Accident Lawyer
While waiting for the police and emergency medical services to arrive, get the contact and insurance information of the speeding driver who caused the accident, if you can do so safely. Also try to record the make, model, and license plate of their vehicle. If your cell phone is still operable, take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and the other vehicle. You should also snap photos of visible injuries, road hazards, and any other information you think might support your claim.
Consult a Virginia Car Accident Lawyer
If a speeding driver recklessly caused an accident, Virginia law permits you to seek compensation for damages if you suffered injuries. An experienced car accident lawyer can guide you through the claims process and help build a strong case for you, giving you the best chance of receiving compensation for your injuries.