Design factors lull speeding drivers into a false sense of security

A recent report by FiveThirtyEight shed some light on the question of why some drivers still speed, no matter the posted speed limits. One little-known factor that may affect drivers on a subconscious level is the way in which roads are designed and constructed.

Engineers who build roads have to account for the fact that some drivers will inevitably exceed the intended speed of those roads. Thus, in order to make sure the road is equipped to safely accommodate actual traffic speeds - not just intended traffic speeds - the road is designed with the posted speed limit as the baseline, rather than the maximum.

This affects the way it feels to drive on a road and can give drivers the sense that it is safe to drive above the speed limit. For example, many suburban neighborhoods have speed limits of 25 miles per hour, but because the roads are smooth, wide and flat it may feel natural to drive 10 or even 15 miles per hour above that limit.

Along with road design, modern vehicle design is another factor that may give speeding drivers a false sense of safety. Because newer vehicles typically accelerate quickly, quietly and smoothly, drivers may feel like they are traveling more slowly than they really are. This can feed the urge to drive faster than is legal or safe.

Speeding in Nevada is about more than just the numbers

Although it lacks the social stigma of other unsafe practices like drunken or distracted driving, speeding is a leading cause of traffic accidents and deaths in the United States. Nationwide, speeding is the primary cause of nearly one-third of traffic deaths each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In Nevada, the law requires not only that drivers must obey posted speed limits, but also that they must not exceed speeds that are "reasonable and proper" for the prevailing weather, traffic and road conditions. Similarly, state law provides that it is against the law to drive at speeds that "endanger the life, limb or property of any person," even if those speeds are below the posted limit. This means that drivers may be required to drive below the speed limit under certain circumstances, such as:

  • Inclement weather
  • Debris in the roadway
  • Construction
  • Traffic jams or slowdowns
  • Inadequate lighting

When drivers disobey the posted speed limits or travel faster than is safe under the circumstances, they increase both the likelihood of causing a crash and the likelihood that someone will be killed or seriously injured if a crash occurs. This is because speeding not only prolongs reaction times and reduces maneuverability, thus increasing the crash risk, it also increases the force of impact that occurs when vehicles collide, which means that any resulting injuries are more likely to be severe.

Speeding drivers can be liable to crash victims

If you or someone in your family has been hurt in a crash with a speeding or otherwise negligent driver, it is in your best interest to talk your situation over with an experienced personal injury lawyer to find out about your rights and options. You may be able to recover monetary compensation for the injuries and losses you have sustained as a result of the crash, including but not limited to medical bills and lost wages. Contact the personal injury lawyers at The Gage Law Firm for more information.