Changing America's Culture of Speed on the Roads

Speeding--exceeding the posted speed limit or traveling too fast for conditions--is epidemic on America's highways. Most drivers understand that speeding is dangerous, and most drivers feel that other speeders threaten their own personal safety. Yet most drivers speed. Speeding increases both the risk of a crash and the risk of injuries and fatalities in crashes. American culture encourages speeding. Many roads are designed for speeds higher than the posted speed limit. Cars are comfortable, quiet, insulated from the road, with speedometers recording speeds over 100 mph; drivers don't feel that they are traveling fast. Television, movies, and electronic games all promote speeding. And Americans' busy lifestyles stress that every minute counts, that in days filled with multiple appointments in different locations, we need to get from one place to the next as quickly as we can--so we speed. Current methods for controlling speeding are virtually powerless in the face of this speeding culture. So what can be dome to reduce speeding? The public's attitudes that accept and often encourage speeding must change, and at the same time speeding behavior must be reduced and stopped in locations and situations where the public knows that speeding is dangerous. Two good targets are (1) specific high-visibility locations, such as school zones, neighborhood streets where children live, highway work zones, and streets with heavy pedestrian crossing traffic and (2) extreme speeders who drive more than ten or twenty mph faster than other vehicles. Well-publicized campaigns focused on these targets, using both manned and automated enforcement methods, can begin changing public attitudes. They require vigorous local, state, and national leadership that recognizes the true role of speed in traffic crashes and injuries, makes speed a real safety priority, increases funding for speed-related programs and research, and uses leadership's "bully pulpit" to inform, encourage, and inspire America's drivers to drive at safe speeds.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: pp 257-272
  • Monograph Title: Improving Traffic Safety Culture in the United States - The Journey Forward

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01051430
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 5 2007 1:43PM