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Speeding Laws
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Speeding was a contributing factor in 27 percent of all fatal crashes in 2016, with 10,111 lives lost that year, according to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis. Unfortunately, speeding has been involved in about one-third of all motor vehicle crash fatalities for more than two decades. Speeding, or going too fast for road conditions, is a reckless behavior known to increase the likelihood of injury or death if a crash occurs, especially for newly licensed teens. Following speeding laws can help keep teen drivers safe.

Since the repeal of the National Maximum Speed Limit in 1995, states determine their own speeding laws to set speed limits on their roadways. In many states, maximum speeds vary depending on:

  • vehicle type (automobile, truck, motorcycle)
  • roadway location (urban, rural, residential)
  • time of day

Currently, 41 states have set speed limits to 70 mph or higher on parts of their roadway systems. In a few states, speed limits are not set by law. 

A growing number of states consider speeding part of a range of unsafe behaviors comprising aggressive driving, with added fines and penalties:

  • 15 states have addressed aggressive driving in their legislatures.
  • 11 states have passed laws specifically defining aggressive driving actions
  • To reduce speeding offenses, many states are increasing data-driven enforcement, technological advances, and public information and education program. 

In most cases to be considered aggressive, a driver must demonstrate more than one action as to endanger other persons or property. Besides speeding, these actions include running red lights or stop signs, preventing other drivers from passing, and illegal driving on the shoulder.

To support stronger speeding laws in your state, the first step is knowing what’s currently in place. Visit the Governors Highway Traffic Safety Administration (GHSA) website for a regularly updated state-by-state guide to speeding laws.

Despite their state laws, parents should include speed management in their house rules for driving with their newly licensed teens. This includes slowing down in heavy traffic, in inclement weather, and when faced with road construction and other hazards. Let teens know that state speeding laws are only a guide for optimal driving conditions. Learning to manage speed based on road conditions and other factors takes time to develop and is a skill that they will need throughout their lives to stay safe.

Statistics

Among crashes attributed to a critical teen driver error, 21 percent of serious teen driver crashes were due to driving too fast for road conditions.

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