Speeding Is A Common Factor In Injury Accidents
Speeding is one of those driver behaviors everyone agrees is risky and dangerous, but many still do it anyway. If you’re running late, it might seem tempting to push the pedal that extra 5 to 10 mph. The reality is, it doesn’t get you there all that much faster, and it can significantly increase the severity of a collision.
Biomechanical researchers and expert witnesses have concluded that a pedestrian struck at 35 mph is almost twice as likely to suffer fatal injuries as a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 30 mph. This is a big part of the reason why speed limits are set so low and why speeding violation fines in road construction zones are so high.
It’s well known that speed kills. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) reports the following 15-year average for speed-related annual crash statistics:
- Speed-related crashes — 18,903 (12 percent of the total)
- Speed-related deaths — 161 (32 percent of the total)
- Speed-related injuries — 7,713 (27 percent of the total)
The car accident attorneys at Lein Law Offices in Hayward know that when there is a crash with injuries followed by a personal injury or wrongful death claim for damages, the question of speed and its role in causation is often at issue.
How Speed Factors Into Car Accident Lawsuits
Speeding is dangerous because it can reduce a driver’s reaction time if they need to stop. It can make it more difficult to safely negotiate curves and turns. It can make it more difficult for other drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists to accurately judge how much time they have before the approaching vehicle is in the danger zone. Finally, the sheer force of higher energy is going to make the crash that much more serious. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports crashes that occur at speeds over 65 mph are more than five times as likely to result in a traffic fatality compared to a crash that occurs at or below 40 mph.
Speed is the leading cause of fatal car accidents nationwide and has held the top spot for decades. Even when motorists obey the posted speed limit, it may still be a factor. Excess speed refers not just to going faster than the statutory limit set by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, but also to situations where a driver is going too fast for conditions.
Wis. Stat. Ann. § 346.57 sets speed restrictions in the state, with a provision indicating no person should drive faster than what is reasonable and prudent given the conditions and with regard for actual and potential hazards. Speed needs to be under control to the degree one can avoid a crash when using due care.
When Slowing Down Is The Law
The law also specifies a series of conditions wherein you may be required to slow down, even if there is no sign. Examples include:
- When approaching and crossing an intersection or railway grade crossing
- When approaching or going around a curve or over a hillcrest
- When upon any winding or narrow roadway
- When passing school children (school zones where children, crossing guards or flashing light are present are set at 15 mph)
- When passing highway maintenance or construction workers, sanitation workers
- When passing any pedestrian
- When special hazards exist, whether due to other traffic (i.e., a traffic jam) or weather conditions (snow, ice, rain, fog, etc.), or highway conditions
- When passing emergency crews, law enforcement or safety workers
Despite all these clear-cut provisions, WisDOT reports plenty of people are still quick to push their luck. WisDOT reports speeding is the most common traffic conviction in Wisconsin, with an estimated 142,000 convicted in a single recent year for violating the posted speed limit and another 7,500 convicted for either driving at an imprudent speed or too fast for conditions.
It’s important to note that excess speed in and of itself doesn’t necessarily equal causation in a crash. However, it can be used to assert negligence per se (meaning negligence by itself) and could be used to establish some degree of liability if it resulted in a worse outcome. So long as a plaintiff’s percentage of fault doesn’t exceed the defendant’s, the plaintiff can still collect damages. Wisconsin’s comparative fault law stipulates that a plaintiff’s contributory negligence is measured separately against the negligence of each defendant found to be causally negligent.
We Will Review Every Aspect Of Your Accident
If you are involved in a car accident or a collision in Hayward or Winter that resulted in injuries and speed was a factor, our dedicated injury lawyers are available to answer your questions, determine your legal rights and fight for fair compensation.