Speeding is one of the most common dangerous behaviors seen on the road. In fact, it happens so often many people don’t think twice about the driver next to them going 10 or 15 miles over the speed limit. But the reality is, speeding is something we should never take for granted. Speeding is dangerous, it’s selfish, and in many cases, illegal.
Every day, South Carolinians die on our roads because of another driver’s selfish actions. If a speeding driver has injured you or someone you love, it’s time to take action. Your rights matter and the law may entitle you to financial compensation for your injuries. To learn more about your legal rights after an accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney.
Speeding Is a Serious Problem in South Carolina
Speeding is such dangerous behavior. Yet so many drivers continue to do it. For the year in which the most recent data is available, speeding was a factor in 24 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in South Carolina. In that year, 927 fatal collisions took place, 200 drivers drove too fast for conditions, and 22 were broke the posted speed limit.
When you consider how fast a driver is going, you can’t just look at the posted speed. Speed limits are just that—limits. They do not take into account driving conditions and other factors.
Many factors can require drivers to decrease their speed for safety’s sake.
- Inclement weather: Bad weather can affect your ability to control your vehicle or stop it. In snow, ice, and rain, always drive below the posted limit.
- Poor visibility: Fog and darkness can make it difficult for a driver to see. Other visibility hazards include curves, intersections, and sun glare.
- Bad road conditions: It is impossible to predict how a vehicle will react to poor road conditions. Possible hazards include gravel, narrow roadways, or potholes.
- Heavy traffic: Drivers should always reduce their speed in areas of high congestion.
4 Things That Happen When a Driver Speeds
There’s a reason speed limits exist. Studies continue to show speeding puts drivers at risk. Some of these risks include:
- Increased stopping time: The National Association of City Transportation Officials calculated the amount of time it takes a vehicle to stop at a given speed. This calculation includes braking deceleration distance (how long it takes your vehicle to come to a stop) and perception reaction distance (how long it takes you to realize you need to step on the brake). For a vehicle traveling 60 miles per hour, the combined stopping distance is 304 feet. If that same vehicle travels 70 miles per hour, it takes 388 feet to stop.
- Decreased reaction time: Driving requires the ability to make split-second decisions. If a vehicle comes out in front of you, you need to be able to stop. If there is a sudden curve, you need enough time to slow down. The faster a vehicle is traveling, the less time the driver has to react.
- Decreased effectiveness of safety equipment: Airbags and seatbelts can save lives in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, this equipment cannot always withstand very high speeds. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety reports that, as speeds increase, seatbelts cannot keep the force on passengers below a dangerous level.
- Increased likelihood and severity of injury: Vehicles traveling at higher speeds exert a higher force in the event of a collision. At a certain speed, all safety equipment is ineffective. At this point, passengers are at high risk for serious injury or death.
Four Common Types of Speeding Accidents
Speeding happens everywhere. It happens on the freeways, on rural roads, in big towns, and in small towns. It can cause all types of accidents that can lead to severe, and sadly, fatal injuries.
Common types of speeding accidents include:
- Rear-end accidents: A rear-end accident happens when the front of one vehicle collides with the rear of another vehicle. Speeding reduces the time drivers have to stop. If a speeding driver follows a driver that stops, the driver in the rear may not have enough time to slam on their brakes to avoid a collision. On the other hand, if the leading driver is going too fast, they may have to come to a sudden stop to avoid a hazard. Depending on the circumstances, this may mean the driver behind them does not have enough time to stop.
- T-bone accidents: T-bone accidents happen when the front of one vehicle hits the side of another vehicle, forming the shape of a “t.” These accidents often occur at intersections where drivers must use their judgment to determine whether they have enough time to cross in front of approaching traffic. If the other driver is speeding, the driver of the stopped vehicle cannot accurately gauge how much time they have, and the speeding vehicle cannot stop in time to avoid a collision.
- Head-on accidents: Head-on accidents are one of the most dangerous types of motor vehicle accidents. These accidents happen when two vehicles collide front to front. These accidents are so dangerous because nothing but the two vehicles can offset their speeds. Unfortunately, these collisions carry one of the highest risks of fatality. When one of the drivers is speeding, the risk of death only increases. A head-on collision can occur when one vehicle’s driver mistakenly believes they have enough time to pass because they can’t see the other car. It can also happen when the speeding driver is inpatient and makes a high-risk decision to pass a slower-moving vehicle with oncoming traffic. Finally, head-on collisions can also occur when the high speed causes the driver to lose control.
- Rollover accidents: Most cars are not race cars. Their handling and braking can only handle certain speeds. When a driver pushes a car beyond its limits, it’s easy to lose control. When this happens, the car can roll over, causing injuries to the vehicle’s occupants. Vehicle rollovers can also cause secondary accidents, including multi-car collisions.
Speeding Accidents Can Cause Serious Injuries
Nobody wants to be in any type of accident. But there is no doubt, speeding accidents are some of the scariest and most dangerous types of accidents on the road. Accidents involving high speeds almost always result in some type of injury.
Five common injuries in a speeding accident include:
- Traumatic brain injuries, which can occur when a person sustains a blow or jolt to the head, such as when, in a speeding accident, their head collides with the dashboard, steering wheel, or window. A traumatic brain injury can result in death, permanent loss of consciousness, and serious cognitive, physical, and emotional impairments.
- Spinal cord injuries, which may occur as the result of trauma to the spinal column, such as in a violent crash or from a penetrating wound. Spinal cord injuries can cause permanent paralysis and loss of bodily functions.
- Broken bones are common injuries in motor vehicle accidents, resulting in severe pain and disability.
- Burns to vehicle drivers and passengers can occur when two vehicles collide at a high speed and catch. Burns aren’t just painful, they can threaten your life because they carry a high risk of infection. A victim who has burn injuries may also experience scarring or limited mobility.
- Whiplash, which is a soft tissue injury that happens when the force of an accident violently throws the body forward before the head can catch up, resulting in muscle strains, tears, and/or herniated discs. Whiplash is a serious injury that can result in severe, prolonged pain. Treatment may include pain medication, chiropractic care, physical therapy, or surgery.
Why Do so Many Drivers Continue to Speed?
Get on the road and chances are, you’ll come across a speeding driver. Unfortunately, speeding drivers are common. Most drivers know the risk that comes with speeding, so why do they continue to do it?
Common excuses you’ll hear include:
- “I was running late”: Whether we failed to plan or something came up, we’ve all been in a situation where we were running late. While some people will just accept that they are late and drive at a normal speed, other drivers drive a little faster to make up time.
- “I didn’t know I was speeding”: It doesn’t matter if a driver realizes they were speeding, it is still their responsibility to control their vehicle. In cases where a driver genuinely didn’t know they were speeding, it is often because they got into a routine and zoned out or because they weren’t paying attention when the speed limit changed.
- “I didn’t think it was a big deal”: There are far too many drivers on the road that regularly speed because they just don’t think it really matters. These people are reckless and show extreme disregard for the safety of others.
- “It’s fun”: Unfortunately, a small number of drivers speed for fun, to let off steam, or to race another vehicle. This type of activity is extremely dangerous because it often involves very high speeds. In a car accident case, if you can prove the driver drove at a dangerously high speed, your attorney may file a claim for punitive damages.
These are explanations, of course, not excuses. The fact remains, a driver who chooses to speed endangers everyone on the road.
How Can I Prove the Other Driver Was Speeding?
After a speeding accident, injured victims often worry that they can’t prove that the other driver caused the crash. Some even wonder if their own driving speed could have contributed.
Here’s the good news: with the help of an experienced car accident attorney, victims of speeding crashes can collect the evidence they need to prove the other driver was at fault, and present that evidence to insurance companies and courts in a compelling case for damages.
An experienced lawyer, sometimes working in conjunction with a team of investigators, may collect, for example:
- Witness statements
- Traffic, security, dashboard, and other video camera footage
- Evidence of the other driver’s driving record
- Accident scene video and photographs
- The degree of vehicle damage or any property damage
- Vehicle monitoring devices and on-board vehicle computer data
- Expert analysis of forensic evidence from the crash
With that evidence in hand, a skilled lawyer can reconstruct what happened and, often, demonstrate that the other driver’s speeding was the primary cause of the accident.
Your Injuries Matter
After an accident, take care of yourself. Speeding accidents can cause injuries that involve a long road to recovery. At a time like this, focus on what you need to do to heal, and let a skilled legal professional handle the job of interacting with insurance companies and defense lawyers, and getting you the money you deserve.
Working with an experienced South Carolina car accident injury attorney puts you in the best position possible to protect your rights and secure fair compensation. Contact an attorney today for more information.