Think back in time. Do you remember life when it wasn’t so busy? Sometimes it’s tough to fit everything you want to into your day/week/month/year. There’s just so much we want and need to do. For many people, their day is just so packed between work, getting home, going about their activities and ensuring their children are on top of their responsibilities, that every second is precious. But for some people, they try to save time by speeding between appointments or for their job. Not the safest move and drivers need to know why it’s riskier than they may realize.
Focusing on the task of driving is the responsibility of every driver who sits behind the wheel. If your mind is on saving time by speeding, you’ve stopped thinking about safety. For example, when drivers who are in a hurry begin to speed, they look for open space in any lane available to merge their vehicle into. They often think about beating the traffic light, which in turn causes them to run red lights. They get annoyed and angry when they can get “stuck” behind a slower driver. Their attitude changes from passive to aggressive. Is this really a safe way to share the road?
If you’re the type of driver who feels there’s absolutely nothing wrong with speeding on public roads, there are a few things you should seriously consider. If you decide to speed throughout the city, you risk having another driver pull out from a driveway or other street directly into the path ahead of you. Those drivers may glance toward you and notice your vehicle is quite a distance from them and feel they have enough time and space to pull out into traffic based on the posted speed limit. The problem with this situation is you’re driving so fast that the space between your vehicle and their vehicle is being reduced more quickly than expected. The result of your speeding is either you slamming on your brakes risking a crash, a severe crash actually happening or a sudden swerve to avoid them. That quick swerve to avoid them could quite easily end up with you crashing into a tree, a building or any other vehicle which happened to be in your path.
If you’re prone to speeding, have you thought about the threat of injuries to you, your passengers or other road users? What about the chance of death? Have you thought about that? Financial loss must also be considered since if you crash into someone, there’s a strong chance they may sue you. Can you imagine your insurance rates if you’re cited for speeding? How would these financial strains affect your family? Speeding is about more than saving time. It can create a snowball effect on your entire life, and not in a good way.
Many of the highways and expressways we drive on are built for higher speeds. The curves on those roadways are often slightly banked to allow drivers to maintain their higher speeds while handling that curve. However, this is not the case in the city. For any driver who takes a curve in the city at a high rate of speed, inertia takes over. Inertia is quite often defined as objects which move in a straight line at a constant speed or velocity—speed and/or direction, unless they are acted upon by an external force. When drivers attempt to take a sharp curve at a high rate of speed, they may be unable to turn the wheel enough to enable the vehicle to follow the curve of the road. Instead, inertia causes the vehicle to continue to move in a straight line. This type of speeding around a curve could result in a vehicle rollover. Not worth speeding now is it?
Stopping distances are also affected by speeding. Many drivers have been clocked for driving twice the speed limit. This rate of speed can increase the total stopping distance by roughly triple that which is required while traveling at city speeds. This only applies if the road conditions are smooth and dry, the brakes on your vehicle are in excellent condition, and your tires are at their correct inflation levels with the proper tread depths. We haven’t even accounted for your reaction time.
How many times have you had a driver speed past you, only for you to reach them at the next red light? Speeding and weaving through traffic give drivers the false impression they are saving time. However, speeding throughout the city will almost always mean you will reach the red light ahead of anyone else. Good for you. Braking at a higher speed means accelerated wear and tear on your brakes. So, it’s costing you more in maintenance as well. Also, quick accelerations reduce fuel economy. Accelerating more smoothly saves fuel and helps the engine operate more efficiently. Is speeding and weaving in and out of traffic saving you enough time to make a difference in your life? Probably not. Perhaps if you left sooner so you would have more time to reach your destination, you wouldn’t feel the need to speed.
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If you like the feeling driving fast gives you, perhaps you should join a racing club or racing school. This way you can speed in a safer environment (including all of the necessary safety equipment) with professionals guiding you along the way. This allows you to drive fast with others who are doing the same thing and in a similar mindset. Wouldn’t that be better and safer than doing it on public roads?
As far as feeling the need to speed on public roads, take a deep breath and travel with the flow of traffic. Leave early enough to make it to work or your activities so you’re not tempted to speed. Speeding isn’t considered a driving error. It is a choice the driver makes. Show your intelligence by showing respect for yourself, your family and other road users. I once retrained drivers at a company that had a saying, “Arriving late and safe is better than not arriving at all.” That works for me. How about you?
About the Author
Scott Marshall has spent over 30 years promoting road safety. He has been a road safety journalist since 2005. Scott was also an on-air judge on the Discovery Network’s Canada’s Worst Driver during its first three seasons. Scott welcomes any questions or comments you may have at firstname.lastname@example.org.