When someone is speeding, are they more likely to have an accident? Is the accident more likely to result in injuries or death? Would lowering the speed limit reduce the number of auto accidents? The answer might surprise you…
What about after an auto accident? If the other driver was speeding, how does that affect your case? What if you were speeding? Can you still file a lawsuit?
What Effect Does Speeding Have on Auto Accidents?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 9717 people were killed in speeding-related accidents in 2017 – 26% of all traffic deaths that year. NHTSA estimates that speeding has been a factor in around 1/3 of all traffic deaths for the past 20 years.
Does Speeding Increase Auto Accidents?
NHTSA says that speeding contributes to auto accidents by:
- Causing drivers to lose control of their vehicles;
- Reducing the effectiveness of safety equipment like seatbelts and airbags;
- Increasing the distance needed to stop the vehicle; and
- Increasing the severity of crashes – leading to more injuries and deaths.
Others, however, point out that slower drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident. What? How does that work?
Differences in speed between drivers cause traffic to flow unevenly, which results in more accidents. When everyone is traveling at the same speed, regardless of whether it is fast or slow, the traffic flow is smoother and fewer accidents happen.
When Congress voted to allow states to set their own speed limits, 31 states raised their speed limits to 70 mph or greater, and 29 of those states had a corresponding reduction in the number of deaths and injuries from auto accidents.
This argument seems counterintuitive, however. I can see where raising the speed limit in an area where some people are speeding and others are not can result in more people driving at the same speed, which may reduce traffic accidents. That’s an effect of improved traffic flow.
If you take one driver who is traveling at 40 mph, however, and another driver who is traveling at 70 mph, it seems obvious that the driver traveling at 70 mph is more likely to get into an auto accident, for all the reasons stated by NHTSA above.
Does Speeding Increase Injuries and Deaths?
Although raising speed limits may decrease the number of auto accidents, most experts agree that higher speeds result in more severe injuries and more fatalities.
The amount of damage done to yourself, passengers, or other vehicles increases with the speed that you or the other vehicle is driving. Impacts at faster speeds are more likely to result in whiplash, brain damage, neck injuries, and spinal cord injuries, and it increases the likelihood that you will come into contact with the steering wheel, windshield, or other hard surfaces in the car.
What Effect Does Speeding Have on My Auto Accident Case?
If the other driver was speeding at the time of the accident, that is negligence per se. Jurors can automatically presume that the other driver was negligent, leaving only the questions 1) did the speeding cause the accident and 2) how much money must they pay to compensate you for your injuries?
A violation of any traffic law will most likely be considered negligence per se, including:
- Failure to yield the right of way;
- Failure to obey traffic signals like a stop sign or stop light; or
- Reckless driving.
How Do I Prove the Other Driver was Speeding?
Hopefully, the responding officer wrote them a ticket for speeding and they either paid the fine or were convicted at trial.
Because the standard of proof in a criminal case (including traffic violations) is beyond any reasonable doubt, which is a much higher standard of proof than that in a civil case (preponderance of the evidence), their traffic conviction should be admissible as evidence of negligence per se in your auto accident trial.
If the other driver did not get a traffic citation or were not convicted of the traffic violation, you must prove that they were speeding by a preponderance of the evidence (51% or more likely than not).
What if I Was Speeding?
You can file a lawsuit for damages after an auto accident even if you were speeding, as long as the other driver caused the accident.
SC’s comparative negligence rule may result in a reduction of your verdict amount if the jury finds that you were speeding, however. If you were less than 50% at fault for the accident, your recovery will be reduced by the percentage of fault the jurors assign to you – if you were more than 50% at fault, you recover nothing.
So, what effect does speeding have on auto accidents? In summary:
- Speeding increases your chances of an auto accident (although some research shows that increasing speed limits can result in fewer accidents, likely due to traffic flow);
- Speeding increases the severity of injuries and the number of traffic fatalities;
- Speeding is negligence per se in an auto accident trial in SC; and
- If you were speeding, it might result in a lower recovery or even no recovery in some cases.
SC Auto Accident Lawyers in Myrtle Beach
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident the personal injury attorneys at Coastal Law are prepared to help you to determine who was at fault and how to get full and fair compensation for your auto accident.
Call us now at (843) 488-5000 or fill out our online form to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.