Many traffic safety campaigns focus on reducing behaviors like drunk driving and distracted driving behind the wheel. These are serious dangers, and it is appropriate to devote resources to educating the public and increasing enforcement.
But one driving danger is so common that it is often overlooked: speeding. Driving significantly faster than the speed limit not only makes a collision more likely to occur; it also makes a crash more injurious or deadly. During the past 18 months (coinciding with the pandemic), extreme speeding has become a major problem here in California and throughout the United States. It continues to be so bad that the California Highway Patrol has secured federal resources to address it.
Federal grants funding statewide traffic enforcement
According to news reports, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just gave the CHP a $2 million grant to bolster its efforts to catch high-speed drivers. The campaign is known as RADARS 6, which stands for “Regulate Aggressive Driving and Reduce Speed.” California is one of 12 states receiving such funding related to extreme speeding.
Speed enforcement has become a very busy job. Since the start of the pandemic, the CHP has issued nearly 45,000 citations for speeding drivers traveling in excess of 100 mph. In the past few years, speeding in California has been a factor in 36,000 crashes, resulting in 53,000 injuries and 335 deaths.
Speeding increases accident numbers and severity
The most vulnerable travelers on California roads are pedestrians and bicyclists, and speeding cars definitely put them at greater risk. A study by AAA calculated how the risk of pedestrian death climbs significantly as vehicle speed increases.
If a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle traveling at 23 mph, the risk of death is about 10 percent. It climbs to 50 percent if the vehicle is traveling at 42 mph. When a motor vehicle reaches 58 mph, the risk of pedestrian death is 90 percent. These numbers represent “average” pedestrians, who may otherwise be young and healthy. Older pedestrians are at far greater risk of severe injury and death.
As you drive around Orange County, keep in mind that slowing down and keeping an eye out for pedestrians and bicyclists can have a much bigger safety impact than you might think. And if you are a pedestrian or bicyclist in Orange County, please be on high alert for dangerous, speeding drivers headed your way.