It’s easy for parents and government officials to focus on drunk driving, but often it’s to the detriment of other issues which can be just as serious. A new report highlighted in USA Today states that speeding is a factor in one-third of traffic deaths involving young drivers. The article points out that as national attention has focused on distracted driving and drunk driving we have forgotten what could be potentially a much bigger issue- speeding.
Speeding deaths for teens on the rise
As new DUI laws and regulations percolate nationwide, fatal teen crashes, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, has increased from 30% in 2000 to 33% in 2011. Unfortunately, the issue of speeding has gone largely unnoticed by the public. According to another study funded by insurer State Farm, from 2000 to 2011 there were “19,447 speed-related crashes involving teen drivers.”
Experts contend they’ve known for years that speeding, especially for boys, is a real problem, but many have failed to focus exclusively on the issue. In fact, the speeding limits for much of the country have been increasing, and it does not seem to be a major concern.
Unfortunately, many believe that unless speeding is recognized as a dangerous activity, just as dangerous as drunk driving, it will be difficult to adequately address the issue. According to reports, “Half of all fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers with three or more passengers are speeding-related.”
What can be done to lower speeding accidents?
Experts suggest that lowering speeding accidents and fatalities may simply involve moving the focus of the issue to federal, state and local levels, similar to what has been done for drunk driving. Enforcing laws, using automated cameras and tightening license restrictions are just some of the recent suggestions.
Parents can also help by talking to their kids about speeding and the dangers involved and limit the amount of passengers in vehicles. For instance, most speeding accidents occur at night with multiple young, male drivers in the car. Monitoring kids more closely and waiting to buy them their own car can also be helpful. What kid wants to speed in their mom’s minivan with four of their closest buddies? More than likely they won’t even want to drive the minivan. If you do decide to buy them their own car avoiding the sports car and purchasing a more dependable sedan can reduce the temptation for them to speed.
Others suggest that the focus needs to move from distracted driving to speeding or widening the discussion.
Another hurdle is the societal acceptance of speeding. For instance, one of the most popular movies of the summer a sequel in the Fast and Furious series glorifies the culture of street racing. In fact, many young drivers acknowledge speeding, even on residential streets, is “completely acceptable.”
If there is going to be a discussion, now is the time. The deadliest season for drivers is the summer months with June, July and August containing eight of the ten deadliest days of the year.
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