American roads have gotten deadlier since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 38,824 traffic fatalities in 2020 – the most going back over a decade.
Experts attribute rising roadway fatalities to a number of causes – some related to the pandemic and some not. Still, as is the case every year, roadway fatalities are often the result of risky behaviors; speeding being among the most common. (Here is a look at the states where car deaths are increasing the most.)
Nationwide, 29% of traffic deaths – 11,258 in total – were related to speeding in 2020. This figure varies considerably from state to state, however, and in some parts of the country, speeding is a far bigger problem than in others.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed statistics from the NHTSA to identify the states where speeding kills the most people. States are ranked by the share of all traffic fatalities – including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians – that were related to speeding in 2020. Depending on the state, speeding accounts for anywhere from 9% of traffic deaths to nearly 50%.
Speed limits are set to reduce the likelihood and severity of traffic accidents. When drivers exceed posted speed limits, not only does the probability of an accident increase, but so too does the likelihood of serious injury or death in the event of an accident.
In most states, non-interstate arterials or highways – excluding freeways and expressways – account for the largest share of speed related traffic deaths. Speed limits on these types of roads typically range between 50 and 70 miles per hour – and the odds of a driver or passenger walking away from a collision at speeds greater than 70 miles per hour are slim.
Speeding can also reduce the control a motorist has over their vehicle. In several states, local roads, which are typically residential or commercial and have speed limits between 20 and 45 miles per hour, rank among the deadliest. Drivers who exceed the speed limits on these roads are less likely to be able to avoid pedestrians or cyclists. (Here is a look at the best cities for biking this year.)
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