I think I can prove that speeding is safer

I think I can prove that, in some cases, speeding is safer than driving the speed limit, but I?m willing to accept the possibility that my argument may be flawed.

I live in Cleveland - Chicago is about 300 miles away. If I drive to Chicago averaging 60 mph, it will take me 5 hours. If I average 75 mph, it will take 4 hours. Unless the risk of an accident is 20% higher at 75 mph than at 60 mph, then 75 mph is safer, because I will only be exposed to the possibility of an accident for 4 hours, not five. During the 5th hour of driving required at 60 mph, I won?t be on the road; I will already have reached my destination.

What am I missing???


Among other things, you are missing the significantly longer stopping distances as well as diminished handling ability at 75 mph–as compared to 60 mph. If/when a really bad driver suddenly cuts in front of you at 75, or if a deer dashes in front of you, or if there is a big piece of debris such as a truck tire carcass in the roadway, it is much harder to avoid a collision.

Also, if your tires are less than optimum, the risk of blowout is greatly increased at 75 mph.

All of that being said, if the speed limit on the highway in question is…let’s say…60 mph, I would probably set my cruise control for ~67 mph. While I would not be safer at a higher speed, I accept the reality that I have to assume some added risk in order to arrive at my destination sooner.

Does my approach prove that I am safer at a lower speed?
Clearly, no–but your theory is also essentially unproveable!

However, since I have driven for 39 years/over 400k miles with no accidents whatsoever, I tend to think that my way of doing things has some validity.

I should also point out that, while driving I maintain a long following distance behind the vehicle in front of me, I check all of my mirrors every minute or so along with frequent checking of the gauges and warning lights, I do not travel next to other vehicles, I keep to the right except when passing, I perform a “complementary lane change” when another car is entering the highway, and I keep my tire pressure ~3 lbs over the recommended pressure.

What is your driving record like?

Your risk could easily by 20% higher per hour if you’re driving 15 mph faster than the general flow of traffic. If everyone’s doing 75, though, it’s likely not safer to do 60. The difference in speed has a lot to do with safety.

p.s.-driving risk normally measured on a per-mile, not per-hour basis.

I’ve spent many years living, working and driving in many interesting international places – all most of Western Europe, Russia, Mexico and Asia. I’ve observed the following: it’s not that driving fast is inherently more dangerous or driving slow is always safer. What is dangerous (and caused most of the very serious accidents I observed) is the difference in speeds. In Moscow, old Russian grandfathers driving aging Zaporozhets going 50 kph shared the same highway with new young Russians driving new Mercedes at 200 kph. If everyone was going 200 kph it would be safer than a wide range of speeds (and drivers’ ability).

Driver education and skill level play an important part as well. Germans do a great job of properly handling limitless speeds on certain parts of the autobahn.

There is no simple answer to your question with many variables. I’d put distracted drivers (cell phones, ipods, navigation screens, text messaging, etc.) as the biggest threat on the road today. Statistically speaking, accidents per passenger mile are a more accurate representation of “danger” than accidents per hour.


My thoughts exactly.

I think this is missing from your argument:

Even if the risk of an accident is the same at 60 and 75 mph, an impact at 75 mph (or a correspondingly higher post-braking speed) will do more damage than an impact at a lower speed. There is avoiding an accident, and there is surviving an accident.

My driving record is excellent. I haven’t caused an accident since my teens and have never been in any kind of serious accident. My last speeding ticket was about 6 years ago.

I understand that I am at higher risk when driving faster, but that’s why I asked how much greater the risk is.

I do pretty much all the same things you do. I keep myself as safe as possible, don’t tailgate, try to anticipate trouble. I recently adopted the latest SAE recommendations for mirror placement. If done properly, it eliminates blind spots. It took a while to get used to, but it really works. I never have to turn my head anymore.

Even with correct placement of mirrors, it is still important to look over your shoulder when changing lanes.

I recieved a good education in regards to the Germans and their almost geneticly aquired ability to drive fast (or so they think) while I lived in Switzerland in the 80’s. The largest deadliest accidents in all of Europe occured when the Germans drove around barriers that closed off Autobahn on ramps due to fog. The drivers did not accept that fog closed the Autobahn, and once on the roadway it was full speed ahead, and into the mass of cars piled up in front of you, clearly avoidable car wrecks.

As for speed an safety here in the states, my Father just got a ticket for 25 in a school zone and his girlfriend just got one for failure to yield, she turned in front of a cop, they complain that I drive too slow but no tickets in 25+years and I test drove 10+ cars a day for a living.

However, since I have driven for 39 years/over 400k miles with no accidents whatsoever, I tend to think that my way of doing things has some validity.

There’s a technical term for that: “Luck”

You are aware that at highway speeds and in warm weather you tire pressure is actually more than three pounds above the manufacturer’s recommendation, of course.

What other manufacturer’s recommendations do you recommend disregarding?

As far as your concern about deer goes, I challenge you to avoid a deer jumping out at you when you’re driving 67 miles an hour. Try it.

You don’t address the point of the OP’s thought experiment:

Unless the risk of an accident is 20% higher at 75 mph than at 60 mph

Additionally, you seem to be arguing that 75 is significantly more dangerous than 67. Weak as water.

“All of Western Europe”???

Spent some time in Andorra, did you?

I test drove 10+ cars a day for a living.

So you prudently drove safely when driving OTHER PEOPLE’s cars, some of them undoubtedly unfamiliar to you.


There’s a lot of Tom Jones vs. Milton Berle in this thread.

So, the faster you drive , the safer you are ? Forget about reaction time of both you and others dealing with your excessive speeds. Forget, most importantly, that in the event that an accident does occur, you are MORE likely to die or be seriously injured. We obey speed limits, not to spend more of less time on the road, but as an acceptance of a few important laws of physics.

Yes, including a night in Andorra la Vella. One of Europe’s best tax-free shopping centers.


I would suggest that you have chosen to look at accidents per time, when in reality I would believe that accidents per mile is more realistic. After all how many accidents happen when your car is parked. Yea it happens but not nearly as often.

I believe you also should add in the increased stopping distance, and reaction time that can reduce your ability to avoid accidents.

The problem is there are many factors that go into the mix and many of those factors interplay.

I have seen many studies that show that speeding, increases the number of accidents per mile. Since few of us chose driving a number of minutes rather than a number of miles, I would have to guess it is not safer.

It really depends on the car. The wide mirror placement works on my Accord but not the Silhouette.

Don’t forget the laws of man, too. I know you didn’t, dagosa, but many others have.

True or not, I have to say, well played.

and there is colliding with a stationary object, in which case one’s own speed is all that matters, and colliding with another moving object, such as one might encounter ON A HIGHWAY.

Yeah sure when I got a chance to drive an M5 I drove Like a little old lady, didn’t get on it at all. Are you kidding I took every advantage to drive those cars as hard as I could. Ever been pulled over while driving a police car?

AT one time there are very few non-exotic cars unfamilar to me, I am a professional at driving other peoples cars hard.