Speeding – The Real Danger

Even though most drivers seem to be aware of both the illegality of speeding and the dangers it presents, more than half of drivers surveyed admit to “technical” speeding. I call it technical because they acknowledge going over the posted limit, but only view this practice as dangerous when it is someone else doing it!

Interestingly, the same survey showed that almost 70% of drivers believe that vehicle safety improvements make being involved in a collision less likely. This led to another eye-opener; many of those drivers surveyed acknowledged engaging in riskier behavior (such as speeding in bad weather or on poor roads) because they believe their vehicle was safer.

While it is true that higher speeds increase the amount of kinetic energy which in turn increases the risk of severe injury, the real danger associated with speed is that the driver will miss important driving information which leads to poor driving decisions which leads to more crashes, injuries and fatalities.

As a species, we are programmed to process information at a walking speed. Even running presents a challenge to our ability to detect relevant information, process it, decide what to do and then implement that decision. Running through a cluttered or forested area illustrates quite clearly how our ability to recognize hazards and make good decisions is adversely affected by speed.

In a driving situation, when the volume and velocity of information becomes greater than our ability to process it, we end up “looking but not seeing”. Some drivers try to compensate for this by focusing their attention directly ahead of them. This results in less time looking in peripheral areas, less time spent monitoring instruments/gauges as well as less time scanning for traffic lights or other approaching motorists.

Safe driving requires drivers to take in and process as much relevant driving information as possible. Only then are we able to make good driving decisions that keep us and other motorists safe.

And that, friends, is the real danger associated with speeding!

Rick Geller, CRM
Director of Safety and Risk Management Services
Telephone: 204-985-1777
Email: Richard.Geller@scm.ca