Behind the Wheel at Work – Vol 7 No 2

NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety - road map background

Behind the Wheel at Work is a quarterly eNewsletter bringing you the latest news from the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety.

Volume 7 Number 2 August 2022


As speed increases, drivers have less time to react to road dangers and maneuver to avoid a crash. This month we’re sharing ways that employers and drivers can maintain safe speeds.

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The Facts

Why is speeding so dangerous?
The higher the speed, the more deadly the crash as speeding can reduce a driver’s ability to negotiate curves or move around obstacles in the roadway. Speeding is illegal and endangers not only the lives of the occupants in the speeding vehicle, but all of the people on the road around them, including law enforcement officers. In the United States, driving over the speed limit or too fast for conditions is the factor cited most often by law enforcement officers when they investigate a fatal crash.

A driver needs at least 1 second to react. The faster you drive, the farther your car will continue to travel before it can stop. This means you’re more likely to crash. And, the faster you drive, the greater the amount of mechanical (kinetic) energy that must be absorbed by the impact. This means you’re more likely to be killed or seriously injured. The graphic below shows the relationship between speed and crash type.[1]

If the average speed for all vehicles on the road increases by 10%: 20% increase in all injury crashes, 30% increase in fatal and serious crashes, and 40% increase in fatal crashes

Motor vehicle crashes related to speeding in 2020[2-3]
Speeding means that the driver is going faster than the speed limit. It also includes driving too fast for road or weather conditions, even if you’re not going over the speed limit.

  • In 2020, 11,258 people killed in speeding-related crashes, accounting for 29% of all traffic fatalities in the United States. On average—30 per day.
  • Of these, the majority killed were drivers (73%) followed by passengers (21%).
  • Speeding-related crash fatalities increased 17% from 2019.
  • Texas (1,446), California (1,228), South Carolina (494) and North Carolina (489) were the states with the most speeding-related traffic fatalities.
  • Of the 11,063 speeding-related fatalities in traffic crashes with known roadway type, the majority occurred on non-interstate roadways (87%).
  • Speeding was involved in 37% of the fatal crashes in construction or maintenance zones.
  • Of the 10,295 drivers who were speeding when involved in fatal crashes, 37% were found to have blood alcohol concentrations of .08 g/dL or greater.
  • An estimated 308,013 people injured (13% of total people injured) in speeding-related crashes in the United States.

Did you know?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that for most vehicles, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph. In general, each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional 20 cents a gallon for gas.

The bottom line: Reduce speeding. Driving within the speed limit keeps drivers and others on the road safer.

[1] Nilsson, G. (2004). Traffic safety dimensions and the power model to describe the effect of speed on safety. Bulletin 221, Lund Institute of Technology, Lund.
[2] Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST) (
[3] Traffic Safety Facts – 2020 Data: Speeding (

How to Manage the Risks of Speeding

colorful speedometer, tachometer or gauge
Photo by ©Hanna Plonsak  / Getty Images

As an employer, you can take steps to promote safe speeds and inform workers who drive on the job how to stay safe behind the wheel.

Go-to Resources

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Photo by ©Getty Images

NIOSH Animated Image: Speeding

Traffic Safety Marketing: Speed Prevention Campaign

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Speeding and Aggressive Driving Prevention

Governors Highway Safety Association: Speeding and Aggressive Driving

National Safety Council: Speeding

In Other News

FOCUS Road Safety Program Brings Cultures of Safety, Workforce Development to Small and Medium Size Fleets

FOCUS on Fleet Safety, offered by Together for Safer Roads, is a professional development program to help companies build safe and efficient operations through a combination of safety training, leadership development and technology. Developed in partnership with fleet leaders and experts in organizational management, the FOCUS program helps fleets go beyond compliance and actively contribute to safety. FOCUS takes best practices from fleets and the U.S. Department of Transportation Volpe Center and “right-sizes” them for small- and mid-sized organizations. Program participants work with safety experts and have access to industry leaders to bring actionable learnings back to their teams, creating real and sustained changes that save lives on the road and create stronger organizations and communities.

More Information
Page last reviewed: July 28, 2022