Nationwide, some 29% of all deadly crashes are caused by drivers who speed.

Nationwide, some 29% of all deadly crashes are caused by drivers who speed.

Photo: Rocha

Known for hot, humid weather, things tend to slow down in the South. But that’s not the case when it comes to the roadways. It’s more important than ever for people in South Carolina to buckle up as it tops the list for the state with the most speeding fatalities in the country — with 46% of all fatal accidents in the state resulting from excessive speed, according to a new report from Forbes Advisor.

In 2023, South Carolina experienced a total of 1,064 total roadway fatalities — 494 of which were due to drivers who aggressively put the pedal to the medal.

Other states that ranked among the top five for highest percentage of fatalities linked to speeding include Colorado with 46% -- or 287 speeding deaths out of a total of 622 fatalities.  Hawaii ranks third in the nation with 44% of all crash deaths due to speeding, followed by Missouri with 43%, and Pennsylvania with 41%.

The report examines the safest and most dangerous states when it comes to speeding in 2023. It also examines speeding trends over the last decade to determine if speeding fatalities have increased or decreased since 2010. 

Several states fared well in the report when it came to fewer speeding violators in 2023. Florida ranked as the state with the least amount of fatalities due to speeding at just 9%. Other states among the top five with fewest fatalities linked to speeding include Tennessee with 15%, Nebraska (17%), Mississippi (17%), and Iowa (18%).

Speed Limits Don't Deter Lead-Footed Drivers

One interesting finding, the report indicates that speed limits — which vary state to state — don't seem to be making that much of difference when it comes to deterring violators.

For example, while Texas boasts the highest speed limit in the country of 85 miles per hour on certain roads and Hawaii’s maximum speed limit is just 60 mph, both of these states are among the top ten for most speeding-related deaths.

Noteworthy, Hawaii with its modest speed limit still chalked up 44% of its fatalities to speeding while Texas — with the much higher speed limit — came in ninth among states for speeding deaths, with 37% of all lost lives linked to lead-footed drivers.

Moreover, as many as nine in ten drivers nationally admit they’ve exceeded posted limits, despite 82% admitting doing so is dangerous, according to the report.

Speeding Trends Over Time

Nationally, speeding-related collisions accounted for 11,258 of the 38,824 auto accident fatalities in 2020.

With speeding resulting in increased stopping distances, reduced effectiveness of protective equipment and greater crash force, it should come as no surprise that fast drivers cause 29% of all deadly accidents.

However, there is some good news. Nationwide there has been a 2% decline in the percentage of deadly crashes caused by excessive speed since 2011.

Some states fared better than others at reducing speeding over the past decade. Maine saw the biggest reduction in crashes due to excess speed, with 23% fewer collisions attributed to this cause since 2010. West Virginia was a close second, experiencing a 20% decline.

Maine’s dramatic reduction in speeding tickets may seem counter-intuitive given that the state reduced fines for speeding beginning in 2018. However, some anecdotal evidence suggests police gave more warnings rather than citations prior to the change.

But while some states became safer over the past decade when it comes to the risk of a speed-related collision, motorists in other locales face increasing risks. Both South Carolina and Colorado have seen a dramatic rise in deaths caused by fast drivers, experiencing 11% and 10% increases in speeding-related collisions respectively, according to the report.

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