In 2020 alone, some 11,258 people lost their lives on our nation’s roadways due to speeding, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many of us have heard this scary statistic before. So why do people continue to speed?
There are three primary reasons why drivers speed: Speeding is a habit; the driver is rushed; or the driver is distracted. No matter the reason, speeding is clearly dangerous and should always be avoided.
Consider this: For every 10 mph you travel over 50 mph, your risk of being involved in a fatal collision doubles. And there are some further insights you can share with your drivers. Let them know that if they’re involved in a serious collision at high speed, there isn’t an airbag or belt system that will save their life. That’s a tough consequence no one wants to face. Couple this with the fact that if they’re speeding they may not be able to react in time to avoid a collision. The faster your driver is traveling, the less time he or she has to react.
Now let’s address the three reasons for speeding.
1. A Bad Habit
For some drivers, speeding may be a habit; it’s what they’re used to doing. A person may be so used to speeding that if they drive the speed limit, to them it feels like they’re going too slow. Here is what you need to reinforce with drivers who have this feeling: “You’re not traveling too slow; you’re obeying the speed limit.”
If speeding is a habit, the driver needs to recognize it and fix it. It will take time and effort to change, but considering the consequences, it is absolutely worth the effort.
2. The Rush Job
Do you know drivers who are constantly running late? If you answered yes, tell those drivers to look in the mirror and consider how they are scheduling their day.
Trying to make up time by speeding is a lesson in futility. It doesn’t work. Any minutes a driver makes up will be taken away at the next red light or traffic jam. Also, as anyone who’s ever run late knows, with every red light and traffic jam one’s frustration level builds, which causes distraction. Numerous studies have shown that speeding will not help you arrive on time. In fact, if you get stopped for speeding, or you crash, your arrival time may be delayed, or you may not make it at all.
If a driver is running late for an appointment, he or she should find a safe place to park and call ahead. In the worst-case scenario, they may be told to reschedule. In the best case and more likely scenario, the person on the other end will thank the driver for calling and reassure them that they will be there when the driver arrives. Now the pressure is off.
The bottom line is that fleet operators must encourage drivers to build enough time into their schedules so that they don’t get tempted to speed. Remind your drivers to stop rushing and make safety a top priority.
3. Unwitting Distraction
Put yourself behind the wheel for a moment. Have you ever looked down at the speedometer and realized that you were traveling well over the speed limit? That’s an indication that you were distracted and didn’t even realize it.
It’s something that happens to fleet drivers from time to time. Maybe they were using their phone or maybe they were daydreaming. No matter the cause, the result is speeding. And what’s even worse, they were speeding at a time when they were distracted. This is a highly dangerous and unacceptable combination.
Fleet operators need to clearly communicate with drivers about eliminating distractions. Remind them to stow away items that invite distraction. Make sure you tell them to avoid cell phone use, texting, or eating while driving.
And here’s a trick to teach your drivers. Tell them that if they find their mind wandering, they should start verbalizing their driving environment. For example, every time they see a speed limit sign, they should say it out loud. The idea is that if a driver speaks what he or she sees, it will force them to pay attention to their driving. Verbalizing speed limit signs will make them aware of the speed limit and the speed they are traveling.
Paying attention and avoiding speeding need to be top priorities.
A Word about Speed Limits
Speed limits are established with one thing in mind: safety. Can you imagine how unsafe it would be if our roadways had no speed limits? Fleet managers must impress upon drivers the importance of obeying the speed limits — for their own safety and the safety of all road users.
About the Author: Phil Moser is director of customer development at Driving Dynamics, a provider of driver safety training, coaching, and fleet risk management services throughout North America.