Speeding remains factor in deaths

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, July 8, 2014

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BATON ROUGE — Increases in seat belt use and decreases in impaired driving have helped reduce the number of people killed in vehicle crashes in Louisiana and nationwide, state authorities said.

However, less progress has been made in reducing the level of speeding — another major factor in highway crashes.

According to a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association, the share of traffic deaths linked to speeding increased by seven percent during the recent multi-year period covered by the study.

The GHSA points out “speed remains the one highway safety area where progress has not been made in almost three decades.”

Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, points out, nationwide, speeding is a factor in almost one-third of highway deaths. In Louisiana , aggressive driving, which includes speeding, is a factor in more than half of all fatal crashes.

“Some people rationalize that it is OK to speed because they think they can always maintain control of their vehicle,” LeBlanc said. “However, the faster you go, the more difficult it becomes to maintain control, especially when quick reaction to an unexpected change in road conditions is required.”

Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or objects on the roadway, extends the distance required to stop a vehicle, and increases the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to a dangerous situation.

It takes a driver traveling 60 mph about twice as long to stop a vehicle as one traveling 40 mph under the same conditions.

Speeding fines in Louisiana vary from parish to parish, but offenders can count on paying at least $100 for a first offense. A speeding fine often increases according to how much a driver exceeded the posted speed limit.

Some speeding tickets can require the offender to appear in court. On top of the monetary costs, court appearances for tickets can pose inconveniences for offenders, including requiring them to take time away from their jobs.

“There is no way that saving a few minutes by speeding is worth the risk of endangering your life, that of your passengers and of others on the road,” LeBlanc said. “Speeding isn’t only dangerous, but it can be costly if you are ticketed.”