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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


The need for speed

When the first car was built, I’ll bet its builder wanted to see how fast it would go.  As soon as a second car was assembled, I suspect it raced the first car.  Since their inception, an exhibition of speed has always been associated with automobiles.

Today, major manufacturers offer high-horsepower machines capable of high speeds with advertising showing performance driving that includes warnings against driving that way.

I do own one of those high-horsepower machines, but I’m more interested in the acceleration it provides rather the top speed it can achieve.  Still, with automakers making cars that can easily attain speeds of 140-plus miles per hour, it seems many drivers have a need for speed.  There are videos on YouTube capturing such new car buyers’ accidents within blocks of the dealership.

Speed limits are designed to keep vehicle velocity at a relatively safe level.  With varying equipment and driver skill, the designated speed postings are derived to help drivers stay in control.  Additionally, there is no doubt that the time drivers have to react to emergencies diminishes with increased speed, especially above the limits.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration surveys drivers in America on a variety of driving topics and behaviors.  Understanding the mindset of others assists with driver coexistence and understanding one’s own tendencies.

NHTSA findings show that around three quarters of drivers have exceeded speed limits on all types of roads within the last month.  At least eight of ten younger drivers admit to speeding multiple times monthly, as do six in ten drivers over the age of 65.  Males are 50 percent more likely than females to drive over the posted limit.

The majority of drivers (58%) feel that someone driving at least 10 MPH over the posted speed limit would be at least somewhat more likely than someone traveling at the limit to have a crash. Fewer drivers perceive that a crash is likely for drivers exceeding the limit by less than 10 MPH.

While many drivers believe that the speed limits on interstates should generally be higher, 68 percent of survey respondents feel that other drivers’ speeding is a major threat to their own personal safety.  Perceptions of this threat increase significantly with age, from just 48 percent of drivers age 16-20 believing speeding by others is a threat, to 86 percent of those ages 65 or older. More than three-quarters of drivers feel that it is at least somewhat important that something be done to reduce speeding on all road types.  These findings expose a mindset among many drivers that “it’s not me; it’s the other guy” who is the problem.

And unless you are speeding or engaged in certain other confessed behaviors, maybe the problem IS the other guy.  Besides speeding, “the other guy” admits to 1) entering intersections as light turned from yellow to red (40%), 2) rolling stops at stop signs (30%), 3) making angry, insulting, or obscene gestures toward other drivers (12%), and 4) cutting in front of other drivers (10%).  Drivers under the age of 21 are more likely than older drivers to practice these behaviors.

Don’t be “the other guy” by demonstrating any of the above behaviors, all of which can lead to road rage, accidents and traffic deaths.  Be honest about your driving assessment and strive to make improvements in the bad habits that lead to trouble on the roadway.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at