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Old 29th October 2009, 09:31   #1
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Default Does speeding really kill?

First the disclaimer: I am in no way promoting speeding in any form. In fact I strongly recommend following all the posted speed limits everywhere and driving according to the road and traffic conditions.

Now back to the topic of this thread. I came across a few articles and also did some research on my own when I was in University and thought I should share all this with everyone here.

I am of the opinion that speeding alone does not always kill. In fact there have been rarely any scenarios where speeding was the only contributing factor to an accident. Accident rates are not necessarily higher just because of speeding. As an example, the unrestricted sections of the German Autobahns which have no posted speed limits, have some of the lowest accident rates in Europe (one of my 4th year University papers, also numerous links on Google). The number 1 cause for accidents in most countries is driver fatigue. Speeding alone is responsible for less than 3% of the accidents, and the websites I've mentioned have plenty of information on that.

Most of the accidents involving speeding drivers were because of driving too fast for the conditions (e.g. slippery roads, less visibility etc.) while they were still below the posted speed limit. And speeding under the influence of alcohol or drugs is the second most common statistic for accidents caused by speeding.

Also in the US, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), mostly funded by the insurance companies works closely with traffic cops for establishing and enforcing blanket speed limits. It's the same story here in Canada, where they have even been known to sponsor speed and photo radars for the traffic cops in order to maximize speeding tickets for offending drivers, and hence revenue.

So why this mutual back scratching? That's because in most countries in Europe and North America, your insurance premiums will go up by 25-50% with 2 or more speeding tickets, and it also means increased revenue for the traffic police. In fact, in many of these countries, the insurance companies have simply refused to lower their premiums despite having lower accident rates in the past decade. We have also seen Jeremy Clarkson promoting the demise of the dreadful speed cameras, something which we have been lucky so far not to have in large numbers in Canada.

So I found these 2 websites, which provide scientific and statistical evidence about what I've been blabbering so far, and are a great read for everyone.

SENSE - Is speed killing us?

Car Bibles: Fact vs. Fiction about speeding

Feel free to add in any of your comments below on this topic. I can already smell an interesting discussion brewing up.

Last edited by sujaylahiri : 29th October 2009 at 09:40.
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Old 29th October 2009, 09:52   #2
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Newton's first law of motion (also known as the law of inertia) states:

Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed.


Now in a car on the road how does that translate? If a car is travelling at a higher speed you need a higher quantum of force to change its direction. As the speed goes up the ability of the car to change direction gets comrpomised radically. Accidents happen when you cannot avoid a situation. Now since speed compromises a vehicle's ability to change direction it invariably compromises the vehicle's ability to avoid a situation and is prone to accidents

So speed does increase the likelihood of accidents which in turn may expose you to a greater possibility of death.

Last edited by DKG : 29th October 2009 at 09:54.
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Old 29th October 2009, 09:54   #3
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Speed might not be the culprit in all the accidents taking place on the roads, but IMO it does contribute in more than 50 % of the ones taking place on the highways.

Speed invariably increases the driver's response time & the braking distance. Speeding cars are prone to skid, brakes may get jammed, driver's split second decision may be wrong etc etc

Last edited by akash_m : 29th October 2009 at 09:55.
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Old 29th October 2009, 09:55   #4
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Speed does not kill . It is always the nut behind the wheel which is bound to fail .

--Vikrant
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Old 29th October 2009, 09:59   #5
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In turn speed won't kill you, but it might end up killing someone else. Or you could be the victim of a person who cannot control/handle speeds.
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Old 29th October 2009, 09:59   #6
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The risk of an accident is directly proportional to speed . And it has nothing to do with the person behind the wheel. Just by driving at higher speeds you face a greater risk of an accident. And that risk stems primarily from a severe compromise in one's ability to counter a situation that may need to be avoided to avert an accident

Anyone believing that its the person behind the wheel who can handle speed is only deluding himself. No one can handle speed, because the factors at play (in terms of pure physics) are beyond the scope of human correction.

Last edited by DKG : 29th October 2009 at 10:01.
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Old 29th October 2009, 10:02   #7
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Consider the statement Crime doesn't pay. You can dispute this statement too after looking at our politicians, and corrupt bureaucrats.

As DKG said, speed increases the chances, by reducing response time, by demanding lot more driver skill, by demanding lot braking/handling ability from the vehicle, etc.
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Old 29th October 2009, 10:04   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKG View Post
Newton's first law of motion (also known as the law of inertia) states:

Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed.


Now in a car on the road how does that translate? If a car is travelling at a higher speed you need a higher quantum of force to change its direction. As the speed goes up the ability of the car to change direction gets comrpomised radically. Accidents happen when you cannot avoid a situation. Now since speed compromises a vehicle's ability to change direction it invariably compromises the vehicle's ability to avoid a situation and is prone to accidents

So speed does increase the likelihood of accidents which in turn may expose you to a greater possibility of death.
From a statistical standpoint, what are the chances of causing an accident by going let's say 15-20% higher than the limit, compared to factors like driving drunk, driving under influence, driving while tired, fatigued or even driving while arguing with the passenger(s) while doing the speed limit. Shouldn't these issues be addressed first?
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Old 29th October 2009, 10:08   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
speed increases the chances, by reducing response time, by demanding lot more driver skill, by demanding lot braking/handling ability from the vehicle, etc.
Sharath when I visited the Volvo car plant in Sweden I asked a lot of questions about the kind of safety research and how it all adds up in terms of speed and safety. I was told that beyond a certain limit (I forget but I think its 90 kmph) no commercially viable structure in the automotive design world can protect an occupant. The sheer forces at play in a collision make it impossible to retain the cage's integrity. The other critical parameter is the limits of adhesion of the tyres. As you go higher up in speed the tyres cannot hold the road as the lateral forces during cornering far transcend the limits of adhesion

Quote:
Originally Posted by sujaylahiri View Post
From a statistical standpoint, what are the chances of causing an accident by going let's say 15-20% higher than the limit, compared to factors like driving drunk, driving under influence, driving while tired, fatigued or even driving while arguing with the passenger(s) while doing the speed limit. Shouldn't these issues be addressed first?
Your query was about whether speed kills and in my opinion it dramatically increases the likehood of death, regardless of who is driving.

I am sure there are so many more reason for accidents and I don't know where speed ranks in terms of the many causes of accidents

Last edited by Eddy : 29th October 2009 at 10:39. Reason: Please avoid posting multiple back to back posts. Use the edit option if posting within 20 min. Thanks
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Old 29th October 2009, 10:13   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
Consider the statement Crime doesn't pay. You can dispute this statement too after looking at our politicians, and corrupt bureaucrats.

As DKG said, speed increases the chances, by reducing response time, by demanding lot more driver skill, by demanding lot braking/handling ability from the vehicle, etc.
On the contrary, I'll suggest a little theory here, coming from my own experience. If people set their cruise control at a 100 kph (the posted speed limit), they tend to concentrate less on the road and more on "other things", like talking to their co-passengers, thinking about their day at work, or even talking on the cellphone (yes it's still legal here). And on these open Alberta roads, you can actually afford to do that, with a certain degree of risk. However, if they're going 10-15 over the limit, they'll also be constantly attentive and keep their eyes on the road, in case there is a cop somewhere. The concentration levels in this case are definitely higher, and so are the chances of accidents.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DKG View Post
Sharath when I visited the Volvo car plant in Sweden I asked a lot of questions about the kind of safety research and how it all adds up in terms of speed and safety. I was told that beyond a certain limit (I forget but I think its 90 kmph) no commercially viable structure in the automotive design world can protect an occupant. The sheer forces at play in a collision make it impossible to retain the cage's integrity. The other critical parameter is the limits of adhesion of the tyres. As you go higher up in speed the tyres cannot hold the road as the lateral forces during cornering far transcend the limits of adhesion
So why do you have places like Montana, North Dakota, Texas, etc. where the posted speed limit is over 120 kph, while other places have limits of 100 kph in similar conditions.


Note from the Team-BHP Support Team : Please use "Multi Quote" option for quoting Multiple posts, instead of creating another back-to-back post.

Last edited by bblost : 29th October 2009 at 10:21. Reason: back 2 back posts
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Old 29th October 2009, 10:21   #11
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Sujay its a bit like this. When you are doing 200 kmph on a bike neither can you brake, nor change direction , so where does the question arise of the rider doing anything to control the situation regardless of how alert he is?

There is so little left at that speed in the hands of the rider that should a situation arise where he needs to avert an accident he is powerless. In that sense alone speed leads to situations where you are most likely to be killed
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Old 29th October 2009, 10:28   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKG View Post
Sujay its a bit like this. When you are doing 200 kmph on a bike neither can you brake, nor change direction , so where does the question arise of the rider doing anything to control the situation regardless of how alert he is?

There is so little left at that speed in the hands of the rider that should a situation arise where he needs to avert an accident he is powerless. In that sense alone speed leads to situations where you are most likely to be killed
But that's not what I'm saying here. Speeding according to conditions is totally different from what you're saying here. Doing 200 kph on any public road is outright dangerous. At the same time, doing even 80 kph on a 100 kph road on a snowy day is equally dangerous, despite staying well below the speed limit. However, doing 15-20% over on a clear sunny day does not increase the chances of an accident IMO, provided everything else is in order.
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Old 29th October 2009, 10:29   #13
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Well let me take it to the logical conclusion - if you travel at 0kph the only risk you run is of being hot by someone else. Also, you never reach.

The parameters affecting safeity are state of the road, traffic conditions (in India you have people throwing themselves in your path like lemmings), capability of the vehicle & driver, state of the vehicle & driver, weather conditions, etc.

So there can never be a simple answer. An expect driver in a capable car may be safer at 100kph than an inebriated driver at 30kph.

It is easy to say that speed kills. I will say that IMPROPER Speed Kills.
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Old 29th October 2009, 10:33   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgiitk View Post
It is easy to say that speed kills. I will say that IMPROPER Speed Kills.
In other words, If you have perfect conditions, perfect car, perfect driver, then chances of speed killing you are pretty grim.
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Old 29th October 2009, 10:34   #15
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I kind of agree with Sujay. If the driver is decently trained, not in the sense of getting into a driving school but also in terms of experience, and he is not tired, I don't think there is a big chance of an accident even if you are doing high speeds. But high speeds can definitely prove fatal in case of an incompetent or inexperienced driver and also when an experienced driver is very, very tired.
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