Auto Insurance

Speeding Is the Leading Cause of Fatal Car Crashes in the US

Speeding Is the Leading Cause of Fatal Car Crashes in the US

Speeding results in more fatal car crashes than driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication.
image of car crash
image of car crash Source: Getty Images

Driving too fast for road conditions or in excess of the posted speed limit is the leading cause of fatal crashes in 34 states and the District of Columbia, although it is prevalent in every state. Speeding has consistently ranked as one of the top five factors for fatal crashes for as far back as data is available.

Based on this, ValuePenguin analyzed which states had the highest rate of fatal accidents due to speeding. This was determined by taking the percentage of fatal car accidents in a given state, as categorized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and comparing that to the number attributed to driving too fast for road conditions or in excess of the posted limit.

Key findings:

  • "Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted limit" accounted for 22% of all fatal accidents in the U.S. Operating a vehicle under the influence ranked as the second most common cause of fatal crashes, attributed to 14%.
  • Beware driving in the District of Columbia, as nearly 40% of all fatal accidents were due to speeding.
  • In 17 states and the District of Columbia, 20% or more fatal accidents were caused by speeding.
  • Where was speeding least prevalent? In Mississippi and Florida, speeding was only the cause of approximately 6% of total fatal accidents.

Where are drivers most likely to be in a speeding-induced fatal accident?

In the District of Columbia, 40% of all auto accidents were attributed to speeding, nearly double the nationwide average. Especially compared to Maryland and Virginia, the District of Columbia had a significantly higher rate of speeding-related accidents. Both Maryland and Virginia reported that 18% of accidents were a result of speeding, falling below the national average of 22%.

New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Hawaii also reported approximately 30% or more of fatal crashes as a result of driving too fast for conditions or in excess of the posted speed limit.

States in the Southeast were less likely to see fatal accidents caused by speeding

In Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi, fatal accidents were least likely to be caused by speeding. In all aforementioned states, 10% or fewer fatal accidents were speeding induced.

In Mississippi, the state with the lowest rate of speeding-related fatal crashes, the most prevalent cause of fatal accidents was failing to yield to the right of way.

North Carolina and South Carolina comparatively had the highest percentage of speeding fatalities in the Southeast region, with 19% (North Carolina) and 29% (South Carolina) of total fatal accidents caused by driving too fast.

fatal crashes caused by speeding in every state heatmap

A moving violation ticket could cost you more than just the fine

Across the U.S., an average of 125,000 people receive speeding tickets every day, which leads to millions of speeding citations every year. With each offense, the chance of additional penalties increases in an effort by law enforcement to minimize this dangerous driving behavior.

A speeding infraction also impacts auto insurance rates for an average of three years, and potentially longer if the driver already has a violation on their driving record. A single speeding ticket could increase insurance premiums by 25% in some cases.

Percentage of all fatal accidents as a result of speeding, by state

% fatal accidents due to speeding
1District of Columbia39.5
2New Hampshire38.0
3Rhode Island31.1
5South Carolina28.8
9New Mexico24.2
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Data for the cause of fatal accidents in every state was obtained from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which tracks causes of fatal accidents from the most recent year available (2017). In order to determine the percentage of fatal accidents caused by speeding, ValuePenguin analyzed the percentage of accidents categorized as driving too fast for conditions or in excess of the posted limit compared to the number of fatal accidents reported and categorized by the NHTSA.