NHTSA report reveals excessive speed responsible for only 5% of crashes

The decision will give carmakers more time to prepare for the new regulations

The decision will give carmakers more time to prepare for the new regulations

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We've all heard the phrase 'speed kills', and it's been widely applied to situations both apt and not. A recent study conducted by the NHTSA examining over 5,400 crashes across a nearly three-year period presents some evidence that excessive speed, while it may cause more serious injuries, is not a leading cause of accidents.

Adopting a simplified linear model of an accident's timeline, the most frequent 'critical pre-crash event' cause is driver inattention. The 'critical pre-crash event' is defined as the action or event that puts the vehicle on an inevitable collision course - the point of no return.

Traveling to fast for the conditions was the critical pre-crash event in only 5% of cases, according to the study. The NHTSA says that 41% of all driver-related critical events were recognition errors related to inattention and internal or external distractions. Only about 8.4% of the driver-related critical events were related to excessive speed, however. By comparison, inadequate driver skill was deemed responsible for 10% of accidents.

Other prominent causes of accidents include turning or crossing at an intersection (36%), driving off the edge of the road (22%) or driving outside the lane (10.6%). A unique aspect of the study's conduct is that it involved investigators actually heading out to the accident scenes before they had been cleared by emergency personnel and recording data to determine the causation and timeline of the accident.

The remainder of the accidents were attributed either to the vehicles or roadway conditions themselves, rather than driver fault.
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Comments (4)
  1. This is totally bogus and I demand a recount! Everybody knows that speed is the #1 cause of accidents and that every 5% increase in speed results in a 782% increase in the likelyhood of an accident.

    Speed has also been shown to be the cause of the milk going sour, hang nails, Leonardo Dicaprio's career and colorectal cancer. Furthermore fighting speed fiends is one of the ways that honest and benevolent institutions like insurance companies and small, mid and large municipalities can make a living and we wouldn't want to take that away from them.

    Won't someone please think of the children?!

  2. Hector- You are a complete and utter moron and heres why!

    If speed killed every monday morning would be full of funerals from all the racing drivers and fans killed over the weekends races. What this article is saying is that an untrained driver at speed is the problem and not just straight speed or a trained driver at speed. In regards to the lead cause of accidents what you are reading is that untrained drivers lack the basic task of judging speed and there for trun across on coming traffic thinking they can make it.

    The U.S. for instance has one of the lowest national speed limits, the least amount of driver education and the highest rates of death and accidents on its roads. Germany by the way has the highest speed limits, the most driver education, and the least amount of death rates and accidents on its roads.

    As for myself I was very fortunate that both by dad and grandfather drove for a living and it didnt kill them. I was in shifter carts by age six and attending tracks days and driver training throughout my teens. My first car was a 45hp diesel VW Golf and not a V8 Mustang GT/Camero although I was allowed to drive what ever horsepower laden toy my dad had in the driveway by myself and on public roads.

    It is in my opinion that both government and parents are responsible to teach and educate drivers on how to drive safely at any speed that way you cover all of your bases....

    Your response to the article reminds of my high school years where in my senior year one of my class mates was speeding and hit a tree head on. The tree won and he lost instantly, fortunately his five passengers survived, his car only had seat belts for five, something proper driver education would have taught him. Although tragic his death would have been preventable by having the proper training and education in place such as countries like Germany.

  3. I'm pretty sure he was being sarcastic . . .

  4. very sarcastic...

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